Gender is a socially defined characteristic that can impact your experience abroad.

Women are often particularly aware of gender-based treatment in a foreign culture, though both women and men will want to inform themselves about sexual harassment, safety, and the gender-based societal expectations they may encounter in their host culture.

These expectations may include norms and laws around dating (in both male-female relationships, as well as same-sex relationships), male-female friendships, and gender-based stereotypes of Americans.

Transgender students may have additional questions or concerns, including their rights when passing through airport security, whether their identity will conflict with the immigration regulations of their host country, and, if applicable, whether they will have access to the appropriate healthcare and medicine while abroad.

Things to Consider Before Going Abroad

Adapted from Northwestern University’s “Identity Abroad: Gender

  • What is the attitude towards gender in my host country?
  • What are considered to be typical gender roles in my host society?
  • What are my host society’s perceptions and expectations for men, women, and transgender individuals?
  • What are the gender stereotypes of Americans in my host country?
  • Are there differences in political and social power based on gender in my host country?
  • How do my personal values compare with my host country’s attitudes about socially accepted gender roles?

Things to Consider While Abroad

Adapted from Diversity Abroad’s “Diversity & Inclusion Abroad Guide: Women Going Abroad

  • How do men and women treat each other in my host culture?
  • How are women and men expected to behave?
  • What are the cultural norms regarding friendship and dating?
  • How do men and women typically communicate (both verbally and non-verbally)? Are there cultural differences in communication and body language that I should be aware of?
  • How do women stay safe in my host city/host country? Is it safe to go out alone at night? Are there particular areas I should avoid?

Suggested Resources