Women aren't better at multitasking after all - study

A study released on Wednesday has dispelled the age-old stereotype that women are superior multitaskers.

It's a tale as old as time - men being scolded by their significant others for their inability to multitask.

 'Why can you not cook and clean as you go, Dave? I'll tell you why - women are better multitaskers. It's just how it is." 

However, a new study published in the journal PLOS One has found women and men of similar age and similar physical and cognitive abilities performed common forms of multitasking almost exactly the same.

Two university psychologists in Germany evaluated a group of 96 men and women to carry out simple sets of tasks, combined to imitate the ways people generally multitask. 

The researchers outlined the typical ways of multitasking as either performing two tasks at the same time, starting a second task before completing the first or switching back and forth between the two. The two tasks will often demand two different sets of cognitive requirements.

The psychologists discovered multitasking will typically decrease the effectiveness of both the tasks being completed, but gender doesn't appear to have any correlation.

"Multitasking resulted in substantial performance costs across all experimental conditions without a single significant gender difference... thus our results do not confirm the widespread stereotype that women are better at multitasking than men," wrote the authors.

The researchers noted that older studies have indicated gender differences in multitasking and its required cognitive abilities  - but says their research best compares the abilities of men and women under their typical multitasking conditions.