Gender and Study Abroad

Women comprise about 65% of U.S. students studying abroad today¹. The host culture dictates how women will be viewed and treated. Some traditional cultures might expect a woman to dress conservative and not work outside the home. Other cultures do not place a high value on gender roles; men and women share housework and raising children. It’s important for students studying abroad to understand how gender roles will impact their time abroad. Be open-minded and learn from local women; how do they dress? How do they act? Adapt to your new surroundings. Also, recognize that in your host country you might be viewed as an “American women” and all of the associated stereotypes that come with from American movies and television.

Things to Consider As You Prepare to Study Abroad:

  • What are the society’s perceptions and expectations for men, women and transgender individuals in my host country? How do they compare or are different from my community?
  • How do men and women publicly express gender (clothing, appearance, language, etc)? How may I have to adjust my own understanding of gender and gender expression to be culturally appropriate and respectful?
  • How do my personal values compare with my host country’s attitudes about socially accepted gender roles?
  • What are the gender stereotypes of Americans in my host country?
  • How do men treat women in my host country?
  • Are there differences in political and social power based on gender?

 

Resources

Transitions Abroad: Women Studying Abroad

What Should I Wear, Where? Culturally Correct Clothing

Rick Steve’s Graffiti Wall: Women Travelers