The current trend in study abroad programs across the U.S. shows that men study abroad significantly less than women. In fact, about two-thirds of the students who study abroad in the U.S. are women. This matches the current trend at Creighton.
According to data provided by Creighton’s Global Engagement Office (GEO), over the past two school years, not including 2018-2019 school year, 1,039 students studied abroad. Of those, about 65 percent were females and 35 percent were males.
The total student population at Creighton for the 2017-2018 school year was 59 percent women and 41 percent men.
Lizzy Curran is a Global Programs Coordinator at the GEO and spoke to this trend present at Creighton.
Curran emphasized that it is difficult to reason why men tend to study abroad less than women. She speculated that one of the reasons women might tend to study abroad more than men is that women more often come to college with an intrinsic motivation to study abroad.
“Male students might hear about it a little bit later or think about it a little bit later than female students and, therefore, the steps they’re taking are more to get to that point of applying and going,” Curran said.
Curran said that the GEO office is not actively seeking to specifically increase male enrollment in study abroad.
“Truthfully, I don’t know that we do a whole lot to promote specifically to male students. We do more to promote study abroad to underrepresented student populations such as low-income students, first-generation students,” Curran said.
Jill Muegge, who works at the GEO with the Encuentro Dominicano program, said that young people today in general have a lot of pressure to do with jobs, internships and leadership positions which seem may make it difficult to realize the possibility of studying abroad.
“To think about stepping away for a full semester I think can create a fear of falling behind in those types of things. So I think it depends a lot on support that you have from your social network, your family, your academic advisors – a lot of things play into that,” Muegge said.
Muegge said that the GEO office tries to promote its study abroad opportunities to students early on.
“We really try to get our information in front of students early in their Creighton career because the earlier students start thinking about it, the easier it is to fit it in their schedule and the more realistic it becomes for them,” Muegge said.
Tom Thibodeau, a peer ambassador at the GEO, said the one of the most frequent questions he gets in the GEO’s “Getting Started” sessions is about what it’s like to miss a semester at Creighton. He thinks that one of the primary reasons students don’t study abroad is the fear of missing out.
“People are afraid to drop what they’re doing here and go abroad and experience something foreign or uncomfortable – to go outside their comfort zone,” Thibodeau said.
Thibodeau said that he never really noticed the trend of men studying abroad less than women. However, he said that peer ambassadors help to show students what their experience could look like studying abroad.
“When you hear people’s experiences that studied abroad, that’s what sticks with you the most,” Thibodeau said.
He speculated that maybe male students hearing from another male peer ambassador might help to encourage more men to study abroad.
Muegge said that all students should study abroad if they have the ability and the means to.
“I truly believe that there’s so much learning that goes on just about the world and about yourself when you’re out of your comfort zone. You realize how strong you are, you realize how brave you are, and the lessons that you learn living on your own in a different world can be applied in literally any job field that you’re thinking of,” Muegge said.