The traditional study abroad experience is changing; no longer are students invariably heading to Europe to drunkenly piss on the streets of Florence or Sevilla. They’re heading to Africa, too—and it turns out that the students most interested in studying there are overwhelmingly women.

Women represent 57 percent of U.S. college students, so it follows that the number of women participating in study abroad programs overall would be at least somewhat greater than that of men. But that doesn’t quite explain the extent of the disparity when it comes to Africa.

From the Washington Post:

From elite private schools such as Princeton University and Middlebury College to the entire University of California system, not one school surveyed reported a majority of men on a single Africa program, with percentages reaching as high as 90 percent women.

[…]

Research suggests that men are more drawn to short-term programs connected directly to courses on campus. And immigration data from the United Kingdom, the number one study abroad destination for U.S. students, also suggests that men who do study abroad, occupy a significantly larger percentage of students on programs [in] the United Kingdom than in Africa.

So what’s it all about? Maybe, writer Valerie Strauss suggests, men are more tied to their friends and campus life and maybe even view study abroad programs as “frivolous” and not worth the time or investment. Because a cross-cultural, personally enriching experience obviously won’t benefit a man? Surely this cannot be a matter of women simply being more adventurous and daring (but based on my totally biased opinion and experiences that have nothing to do with studying abroad in Africa, we so totally are).


Contact the author at jessica@jezebel.com.

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