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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Activities & Organizations

Many more women choose to study abroad than men

More women than men study abroad in the United States, and the trend is the same at UH. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Since at least 2012, researchers around the United States have noted that women choose to learn abroad much more frequently than men.

That trend holds up at UH.

The University does not require the Learning Abroad office to track the number of men versus women who study abroad. However, only 31 percent of students who were interested or went abroad were male. They currently cannot separate going abroad and being interested in their statistics.

“We don’t track right now based on male and female,” Learning Abroad Adviser Maggie Mahoney said. “We just started using a new tracking system called ViaTRM, which you can see on our website. We’re able to pull reports and see student registration and student interest.”

The majors that go abroad most frequently at UH are those housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, according to statistics released by the Learning Abroad office.

Following closely behind are Bauer students, which, while the number of students who decide to go abroad is less than the number of CLASS students, the percentage is higher.

While some may think the main reason less men go abroad than women is because more women  are in majors that typically study abroad, like foreign languages and humanities, STEM majors are the most likely to study abroad today.

“Having (STEM students) exposed to science in a different country also means having them exposed to language, culture, food and different types of people in different countries, and I think it helps them get outside their normal trajectory,” Mahoney said.

Another reason women are more likely to study abroad is due to the history of learning abroad. In the beginning of the 1900s women often went abroad to be exposed to art and culture before they got married, and studying abroad was perceived by parents as a safe way for their daughters to travel, according to a study from Iowa State University.

A “bro mentality” may also be another reason men may not want to study abroad. Samantha Brandauer, who runs Dickinson College’s study-abroad office, told The Atlantic that men do not want to leave their friends to study abroad, her findings are also backed up by a separate study, which found the same thing.

Although fear may not be the reason they found that men were not studying abroad, it is something else Mahoney believes should be talked about more in reference to study abroad.

“You don’t always have to stay in a home-stay, you’re not ever going to be by yourself unless you go on an independent program,” Mahoney said. “You are going to be with other UH students, you’re going to be with other Americans.”

Not only can every major go abroad, but there are more opportunities than taking classes in another locale. There are programs that allow students to get an internship abroad and the chance to do research abroad as well.

The best advice Mahoney can offer to those looking to study abroad is to ask questions without assuming the answers and to not self select out of Learning Abroad.

“I think it’s important for students to ask the questions before assuming the answers,” Mahoney said. “There’s nothing more gratifying in my job than helping a student figure out, ‘oh my gosh I can actually go abroad.’ ”

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