What is it about?

To bridge the gap between the awareness and discussion of disadvantage of women’s career development and the lack of actions to tackle these issues, our study, from a sociological perspective, proposes framework with actionable recommendations to tackle gender issues in hospitality through three dimensions: organisational culture, men’s involvement, and education.

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Why is it important?

According to a 2019 World Tourism Organization report, women account for more than 50% of the labour workforce but earn 14.7% less than men and hold less than one fifth of leadership roles in the tourism industry – particularly the hospitality sector. This study provides a holistic approach with actionable recommendations to promote gender equality and advance female career development in hospitality. The recommendations include: • Create and foster a culture of an open dialogue where issues of gender can be freely discussed by all employees, irrespective of gender, leading to an inclusive and equal organisational culture. • The patriarchal norm in organisational practices and culture should be challenged and the structure and training of organisations should be reimagined through a less patriarchal gaze. • Hospitality education institutions should integrate the subject of gender into tourism and hospitality curriculums. The study is significant for various stakeholders such as policymakers, educators, employees and managers in the hospitality sector, as well as general public. We believe all these stakeholders need to work closely together to challenge traditional masculinity and stereotyping gender labour divisions.


Although gender issues have received quite a lot of attention in the past few years, I found there is still too little been done in practice. I believe in tackling the issue of gender equality fundamentally, so we need to have a holistic approach and involves multiple stakeholders working together. We have focused on these three elements because we believe the issues can only be fundamentally addressed through educations, listening and inclusive environment, and men’s supports. Each of these dimensions also connects a series of aspects required to make a change ranging from societal opinions of gender roles, labour division at home, organisational culture and leadership traits, as well as policy-making and legislation.

Dr Wenjie Cai
University of Greenwich

In comparison to other sectors, the hospitality industry has a long-standing history of being male-dominated, traditional, and paternalistic resulting in conflicts of power and gender inequality. Despite women making up 60% of the total industry workforce, they continue being under-represented at the senior management, leadership and board levels, although some but insufficient improvements have been observed at the non-executive director (NED) level. This leads to at least one conclusion that women tend to be employed at the lower, junior-level roles and struggle to break the glass-ceiling to top management positions. Issues of gender become very visible in situations when women take on caring responsibilities whether for elderly relatives or children, and many operational roles within the industry do not offer the full range of different flexible working arrangements.

Dr Maria Gebbels
University of Greenwich

Our action-oriented reflection on women’s career development in hospitality provides holistic recommendations that addresses to multiple stakeholders such as hospitality businesses, educational institutions and policymakers. Not only can the adaptation of these recommendations encourage gender equality in the hospitality industry, it may well be an important step to tackle the long-standing gender labour division that continues to shape gender relations in our society.

Dr. Xiongbin Gao
University of Surrey

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Let’s not just “talk” about it: reflections on women’s career development in hospitality, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, October 2020, Emerald,
DOI: 10.1108/ijchm-05-2020-0385.
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