Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More on the Study Abroad Gender Gap

One of the most-talked-about issues in study abroad is the 2-1 ratio of women to men who are willing to study outside the United States. Melissa Quinby, the assistant director of off-campus study at Bowdoin College in Maine, is trying to figure out why.

Quinby recently wrapped up a study of gender differences in international education at Bowdoin, Brown and Brandeis and offers five hypotheses that might explain why woman are much more likely to go abroad than men:
  • Majors that appeal to men — such as mathematics and the sciences — are less applicable to study abroad than are those that appeal to women — such as languages and the humanities.
  • Men may be more influenced by their peers to stay stateside than are women due to their level of maturity and development.
  • Men tend to have more athletic commitments that keep them on campus than do women.
  • Men have less experience in international travel and work.
  • Men also may be more interested in career paths that don't include international travel.
Quinby stresses that her study presents hypotheses only and, as we academics frequently say, more research is necessary.

“Studies have been done over and over again and nobody can answer this question,” she says.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting on this important issue!

    Some time ago I compiled an annotated bibliography on female students studying abroad. I’m in the process of updating it and the other bibliographies I compile on study abroad but you can access the most updated edition here:

    There has been increased interest in investigating this phenomenon over the past several years. In 2006 Steven Shirley, president of Valley City State University in North Dakota, looked at the gender gap issue and focused his dissertation research on marketing to male students. Additionally, Mick Vande Berg, Vice President at CIEE, has collected some interesting data on gender and study abroad.

    In case this was off your radar; December 4th article entitled “Women Abroad and Men at Home” can be accessed here:

    David Comp


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