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Are women really better at multitasking?

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Ever tried taking a call, making dinner and reading a book all at the same time? It turns out it’s not as easy as it sounds…

Asked by: Andrew Carr, Leamington Spa


Maybe, but the brain cannot handle two complex tasks at once, so what looks like clever multitasking is more often switching quickly between two or more tasks. This is an inefficient way of working because the brain has to decide when to switch and remember each task.

In many laboratory tests, men and women do equally well. In a more realistic study, men and women under time pressure had to juggle simple mathematics problems, answer the phone and decide how to find something lost in a field. During the study, the women were found to be calmer, better organised and planned more carefully than the men. But even if this difference is real, we still don’t know whether it is biological or culturally imposed.

Man or woman though, can you do this?

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