It’s long been speculated that women are better multitaskers than men, but now there’s no question. (Not that we ever did.) According to a new study published by Royal Society Open Science, researchers not only found scientific evidence to support the age-old myth that the fairer sex are better multitaskers, they discovered one possible reason why.
Researchers found that female sex hormones acting on the brain may determine a woman's ability to multitask. The study also revealed that as those hormones decrease with age, women may find multitasking more troublesome.
In the study, Swiss scientists asked 83 volunteers to walk on a treadmill while performing cognitive tasks aimed to test the left side of the brain. The researchers noted that people tend to swing their arms when they walk to help with balance, but men and menopausal women were less able to do this while completing the tests. Younger pre-menopausal women, however, did not have the same problem.
"Women under 60 are surprisingly resistant to this effect," the researchers wrote. "Overcoming this interference appears to be a trait unique to younger females and implies significant gender differences at the top of the hierarchical chain of locomotor control."
It’s still unclear whether or not these differences extend to other tasks—like driving or talking—but we imagine scientists will venture there next.