The nonsense of gender-influences on testers

Have you been watching Duck Quacks Don’t Echo? Lee Mack has guests on and they talk and test lesser-known facts. For instance, did you know that:

  • People with blue eyes have a higher tolerance for alcohol than brown-eyed people
  • The chlorine in swimming pools smells because the pool is dirty

I’ll be honest, the gags are naff, and not all facts are interesting facts, but I approve of their testing of things, and every once in a while, there’s a fact that tickles my professional interest. For instance, take these three facts:

  • Men are better at multitasking
  • Women are better at remembering driving routes
  • Taxi drivers have a larger hippocampus than regular people

If this were true, these give some interesting ideas towards lots of aspects of testing and test management, not limited to task assignment and team selection. But it’s all nonsense of course. If this is to be believed, a male tester would be a good choice of team member for a project with concurrent streams and context switching, whilst a female tester would be a good choice for accurate repro steps and reliably repeating tasks they’ve seen demonstrated. But surely everyone with some years of industry experience has met members of both genders who has admirable skills in both areas at a level to aspire to? I certainly have. Repeatedly.

But there was science! Admittedly, it’s “edutainment” science, but they had people on with doctorates who explained things. I struggled to reconcile this. Then they gave me the fact about the taxi drivers, and it was all made clear.

Taxi drivers have a larger hippocampus because of their constant effort in tactical route selection and their dependency on short and long term memory. Like a trained muscle, practising this activity makes them better at it, and as they hit the peak in their training, the task becomes easier.
It stands to reason here that the male taxi driver will follow a route better than the female new driver.

My takeaway here is that an experienced person would trump any gender-enabled amateur, and that anyone can do anything they want to with some practice. As a very tall person who has attempted basketball and racket sports this would appear to hold true.