The gender ratio between Elon University students on campus and students who go abroad are similar, according to data from the Elon University Fact Book and the Global Education Center.
In the past three years, more than 4,714 students have gone abroad — 67.7% female and 32.3% male. This statistic reflects Elon’s on-campus ratio — 59.7% female and 40.3% male.
According to Shanna Van Beek, communications manager at the Global Education Center, the Elon gender ratio in study abroad programs is also similar to national statistics of gender ratios in these programs.
In fact, the Open Doors Annual Report by the Institute of International Education shows that Elon’s gender ratio for study abroad programs is indistinguishable from national figures.
The study indicated that national statistics from the past two years are very similar to those at Elon in the past three years, showing that 67% of abroad students are female, while 33% are male.
The GEC uses an individual’s gender in reference to the person’s legal travel documentation, which currently only includes male and female as options.
Van Beek said she has generally noticed certain keywords in program titles and descriptions tend to attract more males.
“Words matter,” Van Beek said. “You’ll notice how that plays out, especially in our short-term programs.”
Van Beek said she believes students gravitate toward certain keywords in program descriptions, suggesting that students will choose programs based on coursework rather than location.
Some of the short-term programs that have 50% or more male students tend to have the word “business” in the title of the program.
These short-term business programs take Elon students to Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore.
The same can be said for the semester-long programs that the GEC offers.
Senior Alex Herbst said he was the only male Elon student in his spring 2019 program. Herbst studied abroad in Spain in a program titled “Seville: International Business and Culture.” He said he looked at the specific courses he would be taking when deciding to study abroad.
“It offered courses that would help me graduate while also offering me the experience that I was looking for,” Herbst said.
Ryan Mark, now a fifth-year senior, is one of 12 males on his 27-person study abroad program. The program in Alicante, Spain, focuses on both language and culture. He is studying there for both fall and spring semesters.
Mark said he chose to study in Alicante because it is a Spanish-speaking country and close to the beach.
“The idea of learning a new language or living in a country that isn’t English-speaking isn’t as appealing to guys as it is girls,” Mark said. “But that’s just my assumption.”
Mark also said it’s likely more female students are on study abroad programs because there are simply more female students at Elon.
Van Beek said she believes this trend is due to the connotation of study abroad programs.
“Old school legacy and ideals around study abroad are that people go abroad to learn a language, learn about the culture and connect with humanity,” Van Beek said.