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ERIC Number: EJ803074
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0897-5264
Gender Observations and Study Abroad: How Students Reconcile Cross-Cultural Differences Related to Gender
Jessup-Anger, Jody E.
Journal of College Student Development, v49 n4 p360-373 Jul 2008
Increasingly, global understanding is part of the core mission of institutions of higher education. Many colleges and universities recognize the need for globally literate citizens to meet the demands of an increasingly interdependent world and see study abroad as a way to develop students' cross-cultural skills. The focus of this study is on gender as the social assignment of masculine and feminine characteristics to one's biological sex, in a cultural context. When students study abroad, many do so having an understanding of gender only from their home culture. It may be difficult for students to grasp the notion of gender as socially assigned because gender assumptions often have been unchallenged since birth, potentially limiting the way in which students see the world. When in a different country, however, most things feel new and different, so there may be less resistance to examining the subtle or distinct differences in the way gender is assigned and defined. The purpose of the study was to gain a better understanding of how gender was observed by a group of students participating in a 3-week study abroad program entitled, Food, Environment and Social Systems, which took place in Australia and New Zealand in May 2006. Findings indicate that the experience of study abroad alone is often insufficient in fostering the reflection and self awareness necessary to bring about such reconsideration. Although the current study examined students' sociocultural assumptions related to gender, the findings have implications for other sociocultural dimensions of identity, including race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Additional research should be conducted on these other identity dimensions to understand how students' assumptions influence the ways they understand a new culture in light of these assumptions. As study abroad programs address the sociocultural assumptions students bring to a host culture, they will assist students in examining critically how gender and other dimensions of identity complicate questions regarding who holds the power, access to wealth, and means to survival in a host culture. Only then, concludes the author, will students be able to analyze current international issues, events, and opportunities with a lens that is sharpened to recognize cultural differences from a gendered perspective, allowing them to view their own and other cultures more critically
Johns Hopkins University Press. 2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. Tel: 800-548-1784; Tel: 410-516-6987; Fax: 410-516-6968; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia; New Zealand