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 role do men play in the host country?
  • What role do women play in the host country?
  • What behavior is acceptable for men and women in the host country? For example, in some countries being alone in a room with a man suggests you are willing to have sex.
  • What is the usual dress for women? For men?
  • Think about safety? What will you do to keep yourself safe and/or avoid unwanted attention?
  • How will you respond to men starring or “cat-calling”?
  • What is the perception of American women?



CIEE Knowledge Series: Women

Transitions Abroad: Women Studying Abroad

What Should I Wear, Where? Culturally Correct Clothing

Rick Steve’s Graffiti Wall: Women Travelers

The House on Via Gombito: Writing by North American Women Abroad

Australia for Women: Travel and Culture

Go Girl!: The Black Woman’s Book of Travel & Adventure

SAFETI: Sexual Harassment & Prevention in College Students Studying Abroad


¹NAFSA Health Series: Sexual Health Abroad by Melissa Chambers