Why Women Excel In Multitasking

Why women excel in multitasking

how to excel in multitasking

We’ve all been thinking it, you, your friends, your boss, even five year old girls have probably cottoned on to the fact the we, as professional women, for some mysterious reason have an incredible power that men are lacking. Yes, you’ve guessed it: multi-tasking or being strategic, call it what you will – we’ve got it. Here at Your Coffee Break, we love it when things we long suspected to be true are proven by science. And here’s the latest proof that we were all waiting for: women are better than men at strategy games, and by association, strategic planning. Not exactly groundbreaking, is it? Whilst your beau is wandering around the house, scratching his head as to where his keys are (they’re in his pocket, of course!), you’re racing around the house on a coffee overdose, heels on and ready to face the day. It’s a familiar situation, so it’s no wonder our genetic makeup has apparently been honed over millions of years to give women superior judgement when it comes to strategy, and with millions of years of development then it’s no surprise that we can multi-task to an Olympic standard. Argue all you want, we know we’re the ones calling the shots!

Even though we’ve always known this, the only way to truly successfully argue it against our male counterparts (and win) is with a little dose of scientific research to back us up. One way in which it has been proven is through extensive research into strategy games in which researchers look further into these theories. Studies may have showed little difference in the way we play but we all know that it’s how we play that really matters. There is a marked difference in how we develop our strategies and how we respond to change. A Behavioural Brain Research Review shows that whilst men immediately focus on the big picture, targeting the big win in typical hunter-gatherer style, us women are generally more loss-sensitive and instead focusing on the frequency of wins. Essentially, it all comes down to the age-old question of small gains now or a big win later, a play-off that seems to plague every decision we make, from investing to dieting.

So, now that we’ve given you the lowdown on strategic differences between men and women, let’s take a look at the science behind it all. As much as we might think that our super productivity is entirely down to our espresso addictions, increased female activity really stems from the orbitofrontal cortex of the brain. In fact, females see more activity from the part of the brain during experiments, which helps us make our all-important decisions. In contrast, men use more of the brain’s dorsal area, making them more focused on long-term rewards. Both of these outcomes clearly have their merits, we’re not entirely undermining men we promise, but the detailed analysis and exploration that women possess means that we’re far more adaptable to change. This all sounds very impressive but we guess that you’re wondering what it all means? Here are the hard cold facts: whilst men in practice may be better long-term strategists, women have the edge needed in areas where detail is important. And let’s face it, where are details ever not important? It’s a win-win situation.

Though we often gently tease our male friends when they struggle to do more than one task at a time, there may be more to it than friendly jibes – women are better at multi-tasking. Meet Judit Polgár for example. This 37-year old Hungarian is no shrinking wallflower. She’s become chess Grandmaster at the age of 15 – the youngest person ever at the time – and is the highest-ranking female chess player ever seen. Another great example is 30-year old Vanessa Selbst, a US poker player. She’s the highest earning female poker player in history, and has a string of credits to her name in poker tournaments. Currently studying at Yale Law School, Vanessa is famed for her cerebral approach to the game. She demonstrates an astounding ability to rapidly assess the strengths and weaknesses of her opponents, and continually adapts her strategy whilst learning from her previous experiences. Remember what we said earlier about women being more adaptable to change…?

Judit Polgár and Vanessa Selbst are incredibly skilled women and perfectly exemplify female strategic power but Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire have proven that even in an everyday situation when pitched against each other in a multi-tasking challenge women will be triumphant. 50 female and 50 male students were given a short time to complete three tasks simultaneously: simple maths, coming up with a strategy as to how they’d search for a key lost in a field, and finding restaurants on a map. As well as all of this, the researches phoned the students whilst they completed the tasks. Being on the phone and going about your daily errands is textbook multi-tasking – how hard can it be?! As expected, the female participants performed well in all four activities, whereas the men seemingly weren’t as good at planning for the find the key. What is it with men and their keys?

Josefin Johansson

Josefin is the Features Manager at Your Coffee Break. She moved to London after pursuing a BA in Journalism & Public Relations at California State University, Northridge, in Los Angeles. When not working for the magazine, Josefin can be found at the gym or in the park - reading through various fashion magazines. With coffee running through her veins, Josefin takes on each day with enthusiasm and style!