When it comes to the study of society, researching gender is one of the broadest and most pressing tasks students face. Gender and the expectations that accompany it play a huge role in defining one’s life in many cultures around the world. For much of history, women, in particular, have found themselves subjugated at the hand of gender norms. It is only really over the course of this past century that the matter of gender parity has truly come to the forefront of mainstream social discourse. Despite the vast strides that have been made throughout these years, in many ways, gender equality is still something far from actualisation.
An important step in achieving true gender equality for all is to study and identify how gender relates to different aspects of society. Students studying this matter will often be expected to explore a range of different topics in essays on gender inequality. One such topic worth exploring is the different sectors that make up the global economy and how they are each impacted differently by gender disparity. Here we will take a look at the tourism industry and address the state of gender equality in tourism.
Breaking down tourism
Tourism accounts for one of the largest industries in the world, being valued at just under 3 trillion US dollars prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which temporarily has taken a major toll on the sector’s overall value. It is a globally interconnected part of the economy that is comprised of many facets, including:
- Air travel
- Cruises and ferries
- Short term home and car rental
- Hotels, hospitality, and holiday resorts
- Tours and museums
- Restaurants, nightclubs, and entertainment,
- Travel agents and brokers
Comparing the industry to the broader economy
In many places across the globe, women actually make up the majority of workers in the tourism industry. International reports performed by bodies such as the UNWTO report that women comprise 54% of workers within the tourism industry instead of only 39% across the broader economy. This means that fighting for female rights within this industry has the potential to change many women’s lives. However, the unfortunate truth is that while women may make up a significant chunk of the tourism workforce, they are typically concentrated in the jobs with the lowest pay and the lowest status.
Interestingly enough, however, researchers found that the average pay gap between a woman and her male counterparts was less in the tourism industry than in the overall economy. For the women working in this sector, the pay gap averaged at earning 14.7% less than men, compared to 16.8% in the broader economy. There was also an indication that this particular sector of the economy offers more women positions of leadership than other sectors. The finding backed this result that 23% of tourism ministers around the world are women, in comparison to only 20.7% of overall ministers.
This indicates that, while like just about every part of the workforce, women face an inequity that can be seen on a global level, the standard of this inequity is not quite as bad as other sectors. This is an encouraging notion when it comes to promoting this sector for further growth and encouraging businesses to rethink their attitudes when hiring women and girls.
The future of women’s roles in the industry
Fortunately for equality, the importance of the tourism industry has not been missed by the organisations that hold power to create change. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has collaborated with UN Women, the German Corporation for International Cooperation, the World Bank Group, and Amadeus to produce important statistics and findings in their ongoing report on women in tourism. These reports aim to highlight the current state of the situation and enlighten a pathway to more equal practices and policies across the sector on a global scale.
Among the encouraging conclusions of this global report is the role that technology can play in creating an impact on women’s roles in this area of work. New technological advancements in recent years have allowed women to access training and specialisation that was often previously kept unavailable to them. A greater degree of education in the field almost always correlates with being paid more. Thanks to reports such as those by the UNWTO, many companies are acknowledging the need to introduce policies that focus on female empowerment. Introducing new hiring strategies that focus on reaching out specifically to girls is a powerful step in encouraging women to seek out better opportunities within this area of work.
As the “promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women” is a major Millenium Development Goal set out by the UN, the need to create change and share better opportunities will have to take place on a global scale. Businesses and governments will need to cooperate and put serious concentrated effort into shaping policies that make it more feasible for women to succeed in this trillion dollar industry.
As is the case with just about every facet of society, there is still a long way to go before gender equality will be reached in the tourism industry. But from reviewing the research performed on this sector, it becomes evident that already a significant effort is being made to improve the situation. With continued efforts, the level of inequality can be expected to drop, and as a society, we can look forward to one more industry in which women see greater fair treatment.