Have you ever heard that women are better than men at multi-tasking? For me, it was an obvious fact that most people agreed with that usually women are outstandingly at multi-tasking and men are not. In my life, I never doubted that women were much better at multi-tasking than men. In other words, I couldn’t think of any examples where men can beat women at multi-tasking tasks. Men are known to have good skills at single-tasking and women are known to have good multi-tasking skills. However, these days, I found some exceptions to this, women that aren’t good at multi-tasking, such as my mother, men that do really well with multi-tasking, such as my boyfriend. My mother always said “Don’t talk to me while I am concentrating on cooking”, “Don’t talk to me because I am writing something down”. On the other hand, my boyfriend always say while talking in phone that he is playing computer game, and talking to his roommate as well.
I really liked to learn about attention from our cognitive psychology course, and I was excited to read and learn about multi-tasking through our text. However, since the professor didn’t talk about gender differences in multi-tasking, I separately asked the professor whether women and men are different, implying women are better than men, but I got an answer “No”. This reply gave me a shock and made me research about “Gender difference in multi-tasking”.
To cut to the point, we cannot generalize that women are better at multi-tasking than men. There are many research materials that support the idea women are superior to men at multi-tasking because the brain is different. Yet the word “superior” can be only used in specific situations. There is one hypothesis that claims this is due to the evolution that women can keep an eye on their kids while foraging for food. Also, women are superior at finding missing items according to Fiona Macre science correspondent. There is one research article that concludes that women are better than men. They had two experiments ; in first experiment, they collected 120 women and 120 men and tested computer-based task switching paradigm to each group, and in second experiment, they compared 47 women and men each given “paper-and-pencil” multi-tasking tests. The first experiment result was that men were slower than women when two tasks were rapidly interleaved. The second experiment’s result was that women were better at devising strategies for locating lost keys. When you watch the video below, you would see women are better at multi-tasking but specific condition like caring babies, which women usually do, or household activities that women are usually good at in general. I think this is also a reason of evolution.
On the other hand, the journal I found called “Gender difference in multitasking reflect spatial ability” mentioned that men outperformed women in monitoring accuracy of multiple tasks. It said the ability to coordinate multiple tasks are due to the ability to maintain and update multiple goals and the ability to coordinate spatial relations. According to this journal, we cannot generalize multi-tasking tasks by gender differences, but individual differences are also affecting multi-tasking given some conditions that may show reversed or declined gender differences because of task specific-constraints and strategies.
In short, generalizing that women’s multi-tasking skills are superior to men’s multi-tasking skills is wrong, due to individual differences in multi-tasking. This is more complex, like men and women, and there would be a lot of exceptions if we generalize. Still, it is true that women are better in multitasking in terms of household activities or scheduling and men are better in terms of spatio-temporal activities. This study made me understand well about the exceptions when I generalized about it myself. It would be hard to get rid of the bias that women’s multi-tasking skills are better than men’s as it was issued in the past and many people are interested especially in “gender differences”. I wish to inform my peers about the generalization and stereotype of this matter in hopes to eliminate some future errors.