I asked Buser where he thinks things stand now. "The number of studies carried out so far is simply too small to come to a conclusive answer, especially because there are so many dimensions to multitasking," he replied. "It is entirely possible that women are better at some kinds of multitasking but not at others, but so far there is very little evidence for any gender differences."
Ann Althouse asks why people like to believe that women are better than men at multitasking, and offers a few suggestions.
Who benefits? Is it female ego-boosting? Is it another trick of the patriarchy that hoodwinks women into doing the housework and child-rearing?
I think she's on to something. Other possibilities:
- Perhaps women excel at tasks that are more commonly performed in parallel due to the nature of the tasks themselves.
- Perhaps women excel at multitasking some highly visible tasks, and this observation bias leads people to believe that women excel at multitasking in general.
- Perhaps women exert greater effort while multitasking in a real environment, while men only exert themselves while multitasking in an experimental environment.