Study: Women are the ultimate multitaskers

Dec. 3, 2011 at 1:55 AM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Women are the ultimate multitaskers, Israeli and U.S. researchers say, and the emotional experience of multitasking is very different for mothers and fathers.

Lead author Shira Offer, an assistant professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, said not only are working mothers multitasking more frequently than working fathers, but their multitasking experience is more negative.

The study, published in the American Sociological Review, found working mothers spend about 10 more hours per week multitasking than do working fathers -- 48.3 hours per week for moms compared to 38.9 for dads.

"This suggests that working mothers are doing two activities at once more than two-fifths of the time they are awake, while working fathers are multitasking more than one-third of their waking hours," study co-author Barbara Schneider of Michigan State University, said in a statement.

The study authors said an even bigger issue than the time discrepancy is the difference in the way multitasking makes working mothers and fathers feel.

"There is a considerable disparity in the quality of the multitasking experience for working moms and dads," Offer said. "For mothers, multitasking is -- on the whole -- a negative experience, whereas it is not for fathers. Only mothers report negative emotions and feeling stressed and conflicted when they multitask at home and in public settings. By contrast, multitasking in these contexts is a positive experience for fathers."

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