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January 12, 2010

Are Boy Or Girl IT Leaders Better At Multitasking?

IT Leaders Need To Be Able To Do A Lot, But Do We Have To Do It All At Once?

So this may push a few buttons, but it’s probably a good question to ask in these times IT downsizing and increasing responsibilities for everyone: are men or women better at juggling multiple tasks at the same time? Traditionally, everyone seems to think that women do a better job of this than men, but are they (still) correct?

If you go have a talk with the evolutionary biologists, they have a pretty strong opinion about this one. It has long been argued that because our long ago ancestors had established gender roles, we may have inherited a behavioral divide.

Way back in prehistoric days, men (insert grunt here) acted primarily as hunters while women ended up handling just about every other job. Since they got more practice at dealing with multiple jobs, the thinking goes that women in IT today have inherited these skills and are more efficient at multitasking than men.

A survey taken in 2003 by researchers at Rutgers University discovered that 75% of the women surveyed believed that women are better at multitasking than men. 33% of the men agreed.

Who knows if this was ever true for our prehistoric ancestors – the Rutgers researchers were not around back then. However, some researchers today, such as Dr. Paul Burgess who is a neuroscientist over at the University College, London, say that isn’t the case today.

Dr. Burgess says that his studies have revealed very little performance differences between men and women when it comes to multitasking effectiveness. However, somewhat not surprisingly he has found that both men and women have different perceptions about their multitasking capabilities.

In the end, this may all be for naught. In the past few years scientists have discovered that in almost all cases it is always more efficient to perform tasks one at a time instead of attempting to do all of them at once.

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