I’ve been wondering who started this? Who was the bright spark that thought it would be a good thing to claim that ‘women are better at multitasking’?
I wish to mount a strong challenge and expose the fallacy – not that women are incapable of multitasking, rather that the concept itself is ridiculous. Just how easy is it to do more than one thing at a time, if you want to do something properly?
Let’s keep it simple to start off with. I’m sure we’ve all read the newspaper while eating breakfast – an obvious example of multitasking. The result? Jam on the paper, egg down your front, and crumbs on the floor as you wave your toast around while turning the page.
How many times have you had someone walk straight into you as they update their status on Facebook? And let’s not forget the woman who actually walked off the end of a pier in Melbourne while glued to her smartphone. How about cycling and listening to music on your cool new buds? The result – a near fatal accident as you don’t hear the idiot on the motorbike roar past you at 80 mph until he’s far too close for comfort.
Now come on, I hear you say, that’s not what it’s really about. Multitasking applies to being able to make complex management decisions while instructing your team at work while you choose which pair of new boots to buy from your favourite online store. Oh yeah? So how come you managed to simultaneously add a nought to the sales figures, agree to the appointment of an office assistant even though there is a blanket ban on all new staff – and end up with a pair of lime green bejewelled flip flops instead of the knee high black leather boots?
Taking all this into consideration, I’m rather dubious as to the implications of placing women on the multitasking pedestal. I don’t think it’s anything to aspire to. After all, wasn’t the banking crisis a prime example of testosterone fuelled attempts at multitasking? A bunch of overpaid gamblers were given free rein – and still are – to invent new and unproved mathematical formulae. These were then used to manipulate pension funds, personal savings, mortgages and loans. The classic image of the banker at his screen shows a person frantically making a number of decisions simultaneously that all concern someone else’s money. What of course is really going on inside his head is just how he is going to spend his latest bonus. Will it be a yacht or that cute villa in Tuscany? A fine bit of multitasking, and look where it got us.
So I’m done with multitasking for both women and men. Instead I’d like to propose a more considered approach where we don’t all pretend that we can pay our credit card bill online while cooking supper and booking a holiday. I mean, with a nod to John Betjeman, did you really want to go Slough for a fortnight?