Disproportionate study abroad numbers reflect number of women in college


The Vanguard Vision

This week, we looked at the issue of fewer men studying abroad than women.  We couldn’t help but notice the reasons given for the disproportionate numbers, but we also noticed how other factors are influencing this.

The numbers reported in the article are interesting.  We recognize this disproportion is a cause of concern, but we acknowledge that part of the reason is the strides women have made in attending college.

With SVSU in particular, there is already a disproportion existing between men and women as students.  Women account for approximately 60 percent of students while men account for approximately 40 percent.  There will automatically be more women studying abroad than men.

However, we realize there are many other factors influencing the number of men and women studying abroad.

One factor we noticed how there are few programs offered for majors with higher numbers of men, such as engineering.  One of our members has a friend in the Foundation scholars and is required to study abroad. He is having difficulties finding programs that will count for his engineering major since there are few engineering programs offered in studying abroad.

We’re curious about the claim made in “The Chronicle of Higher Education” about men not wanting to leave their social support groups.  Women are often the ones associated in not wanting to leave home, so the claim goes against what we’ve always assumed.

However, this isn’t a huge shock to us because of personal experience. One of our members recently signed up to study abroad, but he was reluctant to sign up because he was hesitant to leave what he called his “comfort zone.”  We wonder if this is a common hesitation among men.

We also realize that a lot of people have never been on a plane.  It seems like a trivial issue, but we’ve met a lot of people who have never been on a plane due to fear or other reasons.  This can have a major effect on those who want to study abroad but are worried about trying too many new things at the same time.

There are other factors influencing the numbers of men and women who study abroad.  We wonder if there is any way to fix this issue.

One suggestion we have is for study abroad programs to curb any hesitation men or women have about leaving the country.  Our member going abroad said he was all for signing up once he had details about some of the specific things his group would do.

If study abroad programs are willing to talk about what people have done with specific programs, this might encourage more men to sign up to study abroad.  It will take small steps to change this disproportion, but they are steps worth taking.