Gender Considerations

Research the cultural norms of your host country.

  • Male, female, and gender non-confirming identifying students should all take the time to research the cultural norms and behaviors related to gender issues of their host country prior to arrival. 
  • If ever in doubt, students should refer to locals around them for a clue on how to behave, dress, speak, or eat in line with local customs.

Be aware that clothing matters.

  • Students of all genders should take care to research the attire of their gender in the host country since many cultures are far more conservative than the U.S. 
  • You may need to pack long pants, shirts with higher necklines, and women may need skirts or scarfs for cover when visiting religious sites.
  • In some cultures, people tend to dress “fancier” than we might be used to for day-to-day or classes. So be prepared to dress in business casual attire.
  • Pay attention to locals around you to guide your choices once you are in-country.

Put safety first.

  • Always travel in groups of at least two, especially when you are unfamiliar with the area. 
  • Always be aware of your surroundings, and trust your gut! If a situation or person is making you feel unsafe, remove yourself if possible.
  • You might receive persistent attention from a person interested in you. Do not be afraid of saying no as many times as possible. Be assertive and firm.

Be careful with alcohol.

  • Keep in mind that the consumption of alcohol has different cultural implications depending on where you are.
  • Some cultures perceive women who drink as “loose” or it is a norm that women do not drink certain kinds of alcohol or frequent some establishments. Do your research ahead of time to learn what is appropriate.
  • Do your research ahead of time to learn what is appropriate.

Be mindful of differing opinions on sexual relations.

  • Decide ahead of time whether you intend to be sexually active while abroad.
  • Research to determine if pre-martial sexual encounters are legal and/or culturally permitted in your host country.
  • Learn about the availability of contraception abroad. Some countries might not have your preferred method available so you should pack some in your luggage.

Build a support network and identify allies.

  • If you are in a country where harassment and discrimination against women are common, having a support network can be a huge asset.

Web Resources