Girls are better than boys at solving problems in teams, finds new global study

Analysts said the findings suggest girls are better equipped for the workplace and are more able to cope with modern ways of working

Harriet Agerholm
Wednesday 22 November 2017 14:02
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Analysts said the findings suggest girls are better equipped for the workplace and are more able to cope with modern ways of working
Analysts said the findings suggest girls are better equipped for the workplace and are more able to cope with modern ways of working

Girls are better than boys at problem-solving in teams, according to the world's first global study examining the skill.

Analysts said the findings suggest girls are better equipped for the workplace and are more able to cope with modern ways of working.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – which carries out PISA tests that evaluate student's academic abilities – assessed 125,000 15-year-olds to see how well they solved problems collaboratively.

In every one of the 52 countries it carried out the tests, girls did better than boys.

OECD Secretary-General José Angel Gurría said more emphasis should be placed on improving team problem-solving skills among children.

“In a world that places a growing premium on social skills, education systems need to do much better at fostering those skills systematically across the school curriculum,” he said.

“Parents and society at large must play their part too. It takes collaboration across a community to develop better skills for better lives.”

On average, including in the UK, schoolgirls were about half a year ahead of their male classmates in collaborative problem solving.

Girls were more 1.6 likely than boys to be top performers when it came to this skill, the study found.

The results sharply contrast findings made by the OECD in 2012 that tested individual problem-solving tests. Those assessments found males performed better than females.

The latest test did not find any significant difference in the performance of advantaged or disadvantaged students, or between immigrant and non-immigrant students when it came to collaborative problem-solving,

The OECD said"exposure to diversity in the classroom tends to be associated with better collaboration skills".

Students who played sports generally had a better attitude towards collaboration, the OECD said. Meanwhile, teenagers who played video games fared worse on average at problem solving collaboratively.

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