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Societal level gender inequalities amplify gender gaps in problem solving more than in academic disciplines

Borgonovi, F; Greiff, S; (2020) Societal level gender inequalities amplify gender gaps in problem solving more than in academic disciplines. Intelligence , 79 , Article 101422. 10.1016/j.intell.2019.101422.

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Abstract

Although digital transformations can help narrow existing gender gaps in labour market outcomes, this change depends, among several factors, on the extent to which females have the skills to make the most of new opportunities. An important such skill is problem solving. We examined gender gaps in cognitive and attitudinal dimensions of problem solving and how between-country differences in such gaps are related to societal level gender inequality. This study involved 237,115 students from 42 countries surveyed in the 2012 round of the Programme for Internation Student Assessment (PISA). Analyses revealed that, on average across the countries considered, males outperformed females on cognitive dimensions of problem solving (d = 0.127) and held more positive attitudes towards problem solving (d = 0.193). However, gender gaps varied across countries. In countries with greater gender inequality, the gender gap in the problem solving performance of 15-year-olds in favour of males was more pronounced than in countries with lower levels of gender inequality (r = 0.27). The association between country-level gender inequality and the gender gap in mathematics, reading, and science was r = 0.20 for mathematics, r = 0.22 for reading, and r = 0.02 for science. Males' advantage in problem-solving performance was in addition to any relationship between gender inequality and the gender gap in text comprehension, mathematics, and the country's level of economic development. By contrast, the gender gap in problem solving attitudes in favour of males was smaller in countries with greater gender inequality (r = −0.42).

Type: Article
Title: Societal level gender inequalities amplify gender gaps in problem solving more than in academic disciplines
DOI: 10.1016/j.intell.2019.101422
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2019.101422
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Gender gaps, Problem solving, Mathematics, Cross-national, Gender inequality, PISA
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10094092
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