In recent years, more attention has been paid to the impact gender has on intercultural and global learning opportunities. Based on data from the 2018 PISA survey, the OECD has examined how girls and boys engage with global and intercultural issues: There are large gender-specific differences with regard to respect for people from other cultures, interest in learning about other cultures, attitudes towards immigrants and the awareness of intercultural communication. Girls show a higher level of global competence in all these topics.

PISA 2018 asked pupils a series of questions about their global and intercultural attitudes and dispositions. These questions focused on the four dimensions of global competence:

  • pupils’ ability to examine local and global issues
  • their capacity to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others
  • their ability to engage in effective communication across cultures
  • their willingness to take action for collective well-being and sustainable development

In most OECD countries, compared to the boys, the girls showed:

  • a higher awareness of but lower self-efficacy regarding global issues
  • greater ability to understand the perspectives of others
  • greater interest in learning about other cultures
  • greater respect for people from other cultures
  • a more positive attitude towards immigrants, but lower cognitive adaptability
  • greater awareness of intercultural communication
  • greater agency regarding global issues but lower propensity to take action for collective well-being and sustainable development

Boys are more likely than girls to participate in activities in which they are expected to share and discuss their views, while girls are more likely than boys to participate in activities related to intercultural understanding and communication.

The authors of the study conclude that girls should be empowered to take an active role in participatory learning activities and thus strengthen their self-efficacy while boys need to be encouraged to participate in activities focusing on intercultural understanding and communication.