Research suggests multitasking is just as hard for women as it is for men.

German researchers say they may have put an end to the age-old idiom that women are capable of taking on multiple tasks at once in a way that men are not.

Multitasking - performing several independent tasks within a short time - requires rapidly and frequently switching attention from one task to another, increasing the cognitive demand, compared to completing single tasks in sequence.

Despite scant evidence for gender differences, the popular perception is overwhelmingly that women are better at multitasking than men.

Researchers compared the abilities of 48 men and 48 women in performance of letter or number identification tasks.

Some experiments required participants to pay attention to two tasks at once (concurrent multitasking), while others required them to switch attention between tasks (sequential multitasking).

The researchers measured reaction time and accuracy for the multitasking experiments and for single task controls.

They found that multitasking imposed a substantial cost on both speed and accuracy for both men and women, and there was no difference between the two groups in the magnitude of the cost.

The full report is accessible here.