Title

The Gender Gap in Post-Secondary Study Abroad: Understanding and Marketing to Male Students

Date of Award

5-1-2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Teaching & Learning

Abstract

Given the post-September 11,2001, environment, a renewed focus has been on broadening the global perspective of American university students. During the past 20 years, the participation rate of American college and university students studying abroad has grown tremendously. International education has experienced much growth and increased attention; yet, despite the interest, enrollment in these programs has consistently been primarily by females with only limited participation by male students. Study abroad professionals have speculated about this gender gap, yet very little research has been completed to understand the disparity. This study examined differences in how males and females perceive studying abroad to potentially find ways of encouraging more males to study abroad.

A total of 179 students from 14 universities completed a survey about their fall 2003 study abroad experience. They reflected on motivations and potential obstacles for studying abroad, influential people and organizations that helped with their decision, likelihood to repeat their experience, and perceived benefits from studying abroad. Additionally, demographic data such as academic major, GPA, location, and grade classification were analyzed along with differences in responses between genders.

Seven research questions searched for potential differences between males and females regarding their overall perceptions of the study abroad experience. Three significant differences found between genders were (a) females stated parents and other relatives were a greater positive influence in their decision to study abroad than for males, (b) females felt interference with an internship or job as well as the overall cost of studying abroad represented greater obstacles than did males, and (c) males more strongly felt studying abroad delayed their potential graduation date than did females.

Since few differences were found between males and females in their perceptions regarding the study abroad process, campuses must re-evaluate their current marketing processes and strategies to ensure that they actively promote to all potential participants. Universities working to increase their male study abroad participation should reassess their campus study abroad offices, personnel, and marketing materials to identify creative ways to influence males to study abroad.`

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