US: Women abroad and men at home

Across America, fuelled by growth in short-term programmes and increasing diversity in participating students' majors and destinations, a two-to-one female-to-male ratio of students studying abroad has stayed remarkably stagnant, writes Elizabeth Redden in Inside Higher Ed. In 2006-07, the most recent year for which data are available, 65.1% of Americans studying abroad were women, and 34.9% were men. A decade earlier, when the total number of study abroad students was less than half its current total, the breakdown was 64.9% female, 35.1% male, according to Institute of International Education Open Doors statistics.

"I wouldn't put it up there among the top issues or problems in the field, but I think it's a puzzlement, to use an old term, and it's sort of a persistent consideration, a persistent sort of annoying feeling that there's something not right about it," said William Hoffa, a practitioner in study abroad, retired from Amherst College, who wrote a history of study abroad. While initially it was thought availability of study abroad curricula might have had an influence, the study abroad curriculum today covers just about the full spectrum of disciplines but the gender disproportion continues.

The persistent gender gap is regularly described as an object of interest in the field, if not an object of intense concern compared to, for instance, the similarly stagnant and low numbers of racial minorities studying abroad. There are lots of theories, but a sense that, in sum, they don not satisfactorily explain the phenomenon. There are a few studies and surveys, but not a deep research basis to draw from.
Full report on the Inside Higher Ed site