Women Really Are Better At Multitasking...In Some Cases
A UK study is one of a very few to address this commonly-held belief from a scientific perspective. It also suggests that multitasking should be considered when evaluating worker performance.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
Researchers in Scotland and England conducted two tests designed to determine how well men and women performed certain tasks. In one, participants had to switch between counting and shape-recognition tasks. As the test grew faster and more complex, both genders took longer to complete the tasks, but the men's response was 77 percent longer, compared with the women's 69 percent. The second test required participants to complete a series of tasks, including figuring out how to search for a key in a field. In that task, women were clearly better performers than men, using methodical search approaches to help them find the key.
What's the Big Idea?
While the belief in women's superior multitasking capabilities is commonly heard, it hasn't been very commonly researched until recently. University of Hertfordshire professor Keith Laws says that although he and his colleagues wouldn't claim these results held true for every woman, they'd "argue the average woman is better able to organise her time and switch between tasks than the average man. There's no point denying these differences exist." He goes on to add that, given today's fast-paced workplaces, more employers should consider assessing workers' multitasking abilities in order to help them become more effective.
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