CBS Local — What’s the secret to working well with others to solve problems? According to a new study, the answer is “girl power.”

An international study of 125,000 teenagers has found that girls had much more success than boys when it came to working in groups to complete tasks. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tested 15-year-olds in 52 countries to see how the influences of gender, after-school activities, and social background factored into their abilities to work together in groups.

Researchers found that girls performed better in every country and economy that took the test, scoring 29 points higher than boys on average. Girls in OECD countries were also found to be 1.6 times more likely to be top performers in group problem solving activities.

This year’s results were vastly different from previous OECD studies, including one from the group’s 2012 individual problem-solving test, that found boys performed better than girls. The 2017 study also claims that there was no significant difference in performance between advantaged or disadvantaged students, or immigrant and non-immigrant students.

“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,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría in a press release. “It takes collaboration across a community to develop better skills for better lives.”

In the United States, students scored higher in collaborative problem solving than most other nations. While working stronger in a group, U.S. students still finished behind nations like Japan, Korea, and Singapore in terms of individual science, reading, and math scores.


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