Science Says Men, Women Equally Terrible at Multitasking

Stick to one thing at a time, people

September 26, 2018 9:00 am

Good news: Men and women are equal! At least when it comes to juggling different tasks.

Turns out we’re all terrible. (Hooray?)

In an attempt to define multitasking and compare these skills across gender lines, researchers at the Harvard Business Review developed The Meeting Preparation Task, a simulation that resembled everyday life tasks and was “grounded in the most comprehensive theoretical model of multitasking activities.”

Now, they weren’t testing anyone’s ability to do two things at once. This was a test regarding serial multitasking: an example they give is preparing for a meeting, answering an email, talking to a work colleague and checking Twitter at the same time.

According to the computerized test — a scenario that placed participants in an unfamiliar space (three connected rooms), assigned a task (setting up one room for a meeting) and threw in a multitude of distractions and ongoing instructions — there were no differences between men and women in completing the objective.

“We think it is fair to conclude that the evidence for the stereotype that women are better multitaskers is, so far, fairly weak,” the researchers conclude … a line I will never, ever say to my girlfriend, no matter how much we’re both (not) accomplishing.

Photo: Takamorry/Creative Commons license

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.