The rights, cultural norms, and expectations regarding women will vary depending on your host country. This may lead to feelings of frustration or discomfort as you get to know your host country and observe gender roles.
Before going abroad, it is recommended that you research cultural attitudes and the experiences of women in your host country. If you are unsure about how to approach certain topics or situations, seek the advice of program staff or emulate female members of the local community. Be aware of your surroundings and if you are in an uncomfortable situation, put your safety first.
If you are a U.S. citizen, you may also want to consider the cultural preconceptions people in your host community may have of the United States and how that relates to your identity as a woman, as that distinction might impact your experience.
Questions to Consider, Tips, & Resources
- How might my experience as a woman abroad differ from my experience in the United States?
- Are gender roles clearly defined in my host country? If so, what are considered typical gender roles?
- What are the cultural or behavioral expectations associated with gender roles in my host country?
- How do my personal values compare with the values held by my host community regarding gender identity and gender roles?
- Are there differences in political and social power based on gender identity?
- What are the society’s perceptions and expectations for men, women, and transgender individuals in my host country?
- Are there gender identities that are not socially accepted or affirmed in my host country?
- Are there safety considerations I should have in my host country? Are there areas or places I should avoid?
- Research gender identity and gender roles using the resources available to you.
- Put your safety first, be aware of your surroundings, and observe how the gender roles in your host community function.
- Remember that each community is going to have its own cultural norms that may be in conflict with what you are comfortable with in the United States.
- Talk with other women who have studied abroad in your host country to gain a better understanding of the norms and expectations regarding gender identity.