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M. De Juan-Vigaray1, E. González-Gascón2, J.J. López-García1, C. Martínez-Mora1, M.L. Vallés-Amorós1, J. Carmona-Martínez1, B. Subiza-Martínez1, J.E. Peris-Ferrando1, V. Hernández-Ricarte3, J. Cuevas-Casaña4

1Universidad de Alicante (SPAIN)
2Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche (SPAIN)
3IES La Torreta de Elche (SPAIN)
4Universidad de Valencia (SPAIN)
University students must acquire theoretical and practical knowledge specific for each degree programme. Furthermore, they should also acquire several transferable skills, such as independent learning, oral and written communication, or teamwork, to enter successfully the labour market. The current programmes include activities in each module aimed at enabling students to acquire both simultaneously. The final goal is to prepare students for a successful, future career.

The variable “sex” has traditionally been taken into account by Social Science researchers, and it is still useful to compare the behaviour of the student population. The concept “sex” refers to the physical characteristics that define men and women; whereas “gender” is a social construction, and refers to the characteristics, roles, attitudes, values, and symbols associated within a society with men and women. Depending on the circumstances, these variables can in many cases be considered equivalent to one another, so the variable “sex” may be a good indicator of the variable "gender".

The present study is part of an international research project of larger scope. We analyse two particular aspects: on the one hand, if the sex of a student (as a first approach to a gender perspective) brings about significant differences in regard to the improvement of the above-mentioned skills; on the other, if there are differences in relation to the effort, measured in terms of hours of learning, devoted to studying each module.

With regard to the methodology, we have used a self-administered questionnaire answered by students of three Spanish state universities enrolled in different modules of several Social Science programmes. A statistical test of homogeneity has been performed. The results suggest that, regarding our first objective, there are no significant differences associated with sex for any of the skills here examined. However, in relation to our second objective, we have found significant differences in the effort, measured in hours of learning that male and female students devote to each module, which is higher in the case of female students.