Women make up the majority of students who studied abroad in the past 10 years.
While women have been traveling alone for years now, there are still many concerns parents/guardians and students may have about being a woman in a foreign country. Each culture has its own set of cultural norms and values, including gender roles.
As you prepare for your education abroad experience, it is important to research the differences in the behaviors of and attitudes toward women that you may encounter in your host country. There may be certain ways women should dress to avoid unwanted attention, general rules concerning interacting with males in professional or school situations, or certain safety precautions that can help in a particular city. It is important to be aware of these differences and respect them when necessary, even if they are not “normal” in your home country/culture or at Babson. The more you can anticipate and prepare for these possible differences, the smoother your transition will be and the more you will enjoy your experience abroad.
Consider asking yourself the following questions before you depart on your education abroad experience:
- Is it safe for me to go out alone? At night? Are there areas or places I should avoid?
- What are the society’s gender norms? How are women expected to behave? Dress? Interact with men?
- What are the society’s gender roles?
- What are the cultural norms regarding friendship and dating?
- Do people in my host country have stereotypes of women from my country?
Here are a few tips for women going abroad:
- Do research on gender roles and norms as well as their history beforehand and continue your research while in country.
- Put your safety first and be aware of your surroundings.
- Know your network of support and check in regularly with fellow students.
- Take cues about dressing and appropriate behavior from the women around you.
- Be aware of cultural differences, including body language, that might be misinterpreted in your host culture.
- Talk with other Babson women who have studied abroad to find out more about their experiences.
Below are a list of resources for women studying abroad. This is a great place to start, but you also should research the specifics for your particular location and apply these principles to the local culture while abroad.