Gender Gaps Found in Study Abroad Programs

Did you know that women are twice as likely to study abroad as men? After considering this statistic, it may be that more women are enrolled in colleges than men. Or perhaps there is another reason left unresolved.

Interestingly, a recent study from the University of Iowa tried to at least touch the surface surrounding this question. Why are more women studying abroad? In beginning to answer this question, we must first understand the influences causing someone to study in another country.

In the paper published by the University of Iowa, surveys were administered to students to find out why they wanted to study abroad. In reviewing the results, the study found that there were profound gender differences.

The study found that women were substantially more influenced by authority figures and educational factors while men were influenced more by personal values, experiences and peer influences. In fact, men who were more socially connected with their peers were less likely to study abroad; this was not the same for women. Another link was that men – and not women – who had yet to decide on a major were more likely to study abroad.

While this does not answer the question as to why this gender gap exists, it does begin to provide some insight into how men and women think which may later provide an explanation.

One interesting example of this is in Boston College where 52% of the student body is comprised of women. Moreover, Boston College found that a majority of males planned to study abroad when they first entered college. What do their statistics look like? When looking at the percentage of students studying abroad by gender, 65% are women and only 35% are male.

This raises an interesting question in the study abroad community. Not only is this effecting the overall international travel and study experience – but even larger gaps in the male to female ratio can be further effected by the destination or program. This has created a stir of discussion within the international education community on how to address this issue.

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