In spite of the archaic stereotype that men can’t multitask, research published in the journal PLOS One has found that women are no better at multitasking or performing several independent tasks within a short time frame.
The researchers, from RWTH Aachen University in Germany, compared the abilities of 48 men and 48 women when performing a series of letter or number identification tasks. Some tests required participants to pay attention to multiple tasks at once, while others required them to switch attention between tasks. Their reaction times and accuracy were measured.
There were no significant differences between the genders when it came to their performance during the tests, as both were impaired in speed and accuracy.
Dr Patricia Hirsch from RWTH Aachen University’s Institute of Psychology says the results add to the growing literature that contradicts the widely held belief that women are better at multitasking than men.
“The findings strongly suggest that there are no substantial gender differences in multitasking performance across task-switching and dual-task paradigms – which predominantly measure cognitive control mechanisms such as working memory updating, the engagement and disengagement of task sets and inhibition,” says Hirsch.