Why do women study abroad twice as much as men?

That’s the question economist Tyler Cowen asks over at his blog, Marginal Revolution. A new study by the Institute of International Education found that about 65% of study-abroad students are women, which almost doubles the 35% of men.

And this isn’t entirely because women tend to choose majors that are more likely to lend themselves to study abroad. In an engineering study abroad program, for example, a major in which 80% of the students are male, the study notes that almost 40% of those who studied abroad were female.

So why the disparity? Why do women study abroad so much more than men?

One explanation is that for the women who would like to raise children, they might feel as if this is their last chance to travel before motherhood arrives and changes everything. One study abroad administrator said, “[Some women] really hope someday to be mothers and they can’t imagine being able to travel abroad and also be a mom. So if they’re going to have an overseas experience, they’re going to do it before they become mothers… [They] really felt plagued by the age of 30. They have a very long to-do list.”

The study lists some other possible explanations: “[D]iffering maturity and risk-taking levels among 18- to 21-year-old men and women; a sense that females, concerned about safety, are more inclined to attend a college-sanctioned study abroad program than travel on their own; and, again, varying study abroad participation rates in male versus female-dominated fields.”

I’ll add another possible explanation: study abroad can be expensive, and men are often, shall we say, “more frugal” than women. Any other reasons, Gadling faithful?

[read Gadling’s interview with Tyler Cowen here— and yes, that photo above is from my study abroad. Easy, girls.]