Abstract Teamwork skills are considered essential for personal, academic and professional achievement, so universities are increasingly integrating them into their syllabuses. However, little is known about how some specific features of students and their educational development can affect their acquisition. Accordingly, this study aims to fill this gap and describe higher education students’ mastery of teamwork skills and its relation to certain socio-academic variables (gender, academic year and grade point average—GPA). With the aim of determining the level of teamwork skills among university students, an observational, transversal descriptive study was designed with an intentional sample of Spanish university students. The sample is made up of 615 social science degree students. The results suggest significant gender differences, highlighting that female students outdid their male counterparts in most teamwork skills, except leadership. Likewise, students’ skills improved as they progressed in their studies, particularly those skills related to adaptability and decision-making. Finally, a positive relationship was observed between teamwork skills and GPA, except for interpersonal development. A regression analysis confirmed the influence of both academic year and GPA for women whilst no effect was detected in the case of men. Based on these results, it is suggested to make changes in university education programmes to compensate for the influence of socio-academic factors and benefit from the most positive features of each gender regarding teamwork to achieve an equal and fair higher education.