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First concrete evidence that women are better multitaskers than men

19 July 2010 Hertfordshire, University of

Professor Keith Laws at the University’s School of Psychology looked at multitasking in 50 male and 50 female undergraduates and found that although the sexes performed equally when they multitasked on simple maths and map reading tasks, women far excelled men when it came to planning how to search for a lost key, with 70 per cent of women performing better than their average male counterparts.

“The search for the lost key task, which involved giving the men and women a blank sheet of paper representing a field and asking them to draw how they would search for the key, revealed that women planned more strategically than men,” said Professor Laws. “I was surprised by this result given the arguments that men have better spatial skills than women.

Professor Laws was also surprised that despite the universal notion that women are better than men at multitasking, their review of the literature unearthed no previous scientific evidence to support this claim.

The participants in Professor Laws study, who were undergraduates at the University, had eight minutes to do several tasks at the same time, such as simple maths problems, map reading, answering a telephone caller asking general knowledge questions and showing the strategy they would use to search for an imaginary lost key in a field.

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