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Multitasking: Productivity Effects and Gender Differences



We examine how multitasking affects performance and check whether women are indeed better at multitasking. Subjects in our experiment perform two different tasks according to three treatments: one where they perform the tasks sequentially, one where they are forced to multitask, and one where they can freely organize their work. Subjects who are forced to multitask perform significantly worse than those forced to work sequentially. Surprisingly, subjects who can freely organize their own schedule also perform significantly worse. Finally, our results do not support the stereotype that women are better at multitasking. Women suffer as much as men when forced to multitask and are actually less inclined to multitask when being free to choose.

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