You’ve read the complete works of Virginia Woolf, you directed Vagina Monologues, and you led the rally on International Women’s Day. You’re a feminist through and through, but this isn’t your mother’s burning-bra-feminism. You spend your days advocating for women’s issues and trying to make your community a more just place. But, you also want to make an impact beyond your community. It’s time to fully experience the ways in which women live around the world. Take it to the next level and pursue your degree abroad in feminist, gender, and sexualtity studies.
Why Earn a Degree Abroad
Studying feminist, gender, and sexuality studies brings forth questions of justice, equality, and identity; you know, the small questions in life. Since the construction of gender identity varies so greatly from place to place, by fully immersing yourself in another culture, you can begin to understand the unique challenges women face in varying environments.
A pillar of feminism, gender, and sexuality studies is that everything is connected, creating intersectionality. Politics, economics, religion, and sociology, just to name a few, all impact one another, and thus all deserve to be studied from differing points of view. Earning a gender studies degree abroad will allow you to weave together the academics, the advocacy, and the stories of women across the globe. Such a complex field of study is not something that can be studied in a vacuum. Instead, seeing the intricacies and interrelatedness of the female experience in an international context will help bring it all together.
From securing voting rights to challenging beauty standards, advocates have majorly impacted the rights of women and girls around the world. Rather than being cool with the status quo, those who study and work in women and gender studies abroad challenge the norm and push policies and societies to be more inclusive. Action is at the heart of the field, and earning a gender studies degree abroad will give you the opportunity to become a change agent across cultures by learning how to navigate new environments.
Deciding where to enroll in a gender studies degree program will depend on your interests and ultimately, where you think you want to work. Where you attend school will affect the connections you make, the language you learn, and the foundation of knowledge you gain for your future career.
Europe certainly offers the most options when it comes to feminism, gender, and sexuality studies degree programs, but that’s not the only reason to select this continent for your degree. You’ll have the chance to study pertinent global issues, such as immigration, in the context of gender studies. In the United Kingdom, you can study at some of the oldest universities in the world. The diversity and history of the UK will couple nicely with your curriculum. On the weekends, enjoy the theater district, sift through thrift shops, and explore London’s East End Women’s Museum. Or, immerse yourself in a new language to maximize the experience. In Spain, you’ll be able to unpack the history of machismo by day, and taste tapas by night. In France, you will see how women have been portrayed in art throughout history at the Louvre, and then you can unwind at a bohemian cafe to reflect on what you’ve learned.
In Latin America, where the gender and income gap is huge, gender studies majors will learn about liberationist and postcolonial theories. This will be your opportunity to help build capacity by understanding the unique experiences of women in this region. See how gender plays a role in La Pura Vida, the laid back culture of Costa Rica. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Surf’s up on the weekends for some meditative physical activity. Or, in Argentina, bailar in Buenos Aires and try the tango in between classes.
To learn about gender issues from a non-Western perspective, hightail it to the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates stands out as a fascinating place to study the influence of religion on gender roles, and vice versa. Religion permeates everyday life and culture here, including dress, law, and literature and is best understood by experiencing it. Whether you simply have a strong interest in the region, or you hope to work in the Middle East, pursuing a gender studies degree as a resident of this region will provide an education complete with Middle Eastern cultural context.
Gender Studies Degrees
An undergraduate degree in feminist, gender, and sexuality studies serves as the entry point to the field. Students who earn an undergraduate degree in the field often pursue graduate-level education or enter the workforce. Graduates may go on to work in such professions as education, communications, nonprofit management, public health, and social work.
Although helpful, you don’t necessarily need a specific undergraduate degree to pursue master’s level coursework in feminist studies. Doctoral programs are fairly new in the field, having only come about in the last few decades, so by pursuing a doctoral degree in feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, you can be at the forefront of expanding knowledge in the discipline.
Expect the coursework to be challenging, collaborative, action-oriented, and eye opening. Classes may have a service or internship component, and if so, take advantage of the opportunity to gain hands-on knowledge and experience!
Benefits & Challenges
Studying feminist, gender, and sexuality studies isn’t all rainbows and roses. This is tough stuff to learn about that can be both infuriating and enlightening at once. Seeing injustice, oppression, and inequality first-hand may be enough to make you want to stay in bed. Stay true to your desire to help others, and focus on the positives.
Language Study. Both a challenge and a potential benefit in one, earning a gender studies degree abroad in a second language requires a foundational knowledge of the language, as well as persistence. But, the outcome can be tremendous, fluency in a second language, giving you the tools you need to land a job in that country and work directly with individuals that you want to impact.
Credibility. Especially for those who want to work in international relations, development, social work, or education, heading abroad to earn your gender studies degree helps build a solid foundation for you in the field; it will give you the skills and credibility you need to be successful. Diving into a new culture head first takes guts and gusto. When the time comes to job hunt, you’ll demonstrate that you have the maturity, drive, and will to stand ahead of the pack.
Community. You’ll find lifelong friends who care about reaching toward equality as much as you do. Become a part of a global community of individuals dedicated to the cause, and gain an irreplaceable education abroad while you’re at it.
Despite the big-meaning i-words (interdisciplinary, intersectionality, inclusivity) that seem to define feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, the truth is, it’s not about “i” alone, it’s about us; everyone working together to make things better. Take your first step toward a rewarding career by beginning a feminist, gender, and sexuality studies degree abroad.