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Gendered working roles in the tourism industry; why is the separation still so clear?

Gendered working roles in the tourism industry; why is the separation still so clear?
Author: Miranna Malvinen
2 Commentries
Abstract: This paper looks at the gendered working roles in the tourism industry and tries to identify some reasons behind it.

Keywords: gender, working roles, tourism industry, stereotypes

In my full conference paper I looked into the gendered working roles in tourism industry. I wanted to gain an understanding to why are there so separate roles for both genders and of which the ones considered for males are more appreciated. I believe this is a difficult question and there are as many visions as there are people working on this sector, and therefore I’m not fully content with my findings as I didn't quite get an answer to all of my questions but I will keep reading more when I’ll find updated research of the topic.
As we know on a very early age kids are brought up to believe certain things are more suitable for girls and some things for boys, for example the colours pink and blue very often separate us and are present from the birth of a child. At schools when talking about possible careers the differentiation between the genders is made again by teachers, which makes it harder for girls to think about being for example a pilot as a possibility (McCarthy et al., 2015). The roles typically perceived suitable for women seem to be those with flexibility, soft skills, taking care and nurturing people and not having to make the big and crucial decisions. Also part-time jobs appear to be typical for women. For men it’s the opposite: the more power and responsibility, the better. In the tourism industry the difference is clear; for example there are only 5 percent women of the 53 thousand members of the Air Line Pilot Association of the US and Canada, and worldwide about 450 female airline captains (Pawlowski, 2011 as cited by Germain et al., 2012), and as People 1st (2013) stated, in the UK a whole 95 percent of the housekeepers are women. Other positions that are predominated by women are flight attendants, receptionists and waitresses, while men are more seen as pilots, chefs and managers. As these female dominated roles involves a lot of customer service, one must always be ready to serve and help, and listen to a lot of complaints. These roles are also called aesthetic and emotional labour, which means that the employees must always look nice and neat and presentable, as well as keep their thoughts and personal views to themselves when at work. (Baum, 2012) In the literature it came up that females have faced bad working conditions, discrimination and depreciation in their work, and from all this a question came to my mind. Since the female dominated jobs are not as easy as people sometimes tend to think because they are lower-paid and so on, and men are perceived to be better in stress handling as well as stronger both mentally and physically, why aren’t they doing these jobs? Why is it that women, who are also at times considered as vulnerable workforce, are put to situations where they are under a lot of stress and pressure? Could it be that they so to say settle for less and as suggested by Germain et al. (2012) take criticism into themselves and don’t push the barriers set by others and go for the higher positions? And as it seems to be commonly thought, are men more driven for the power status and money, and therefore determinate enough to make it even when facing challenges?
Some explanations I found in the literature for the gendered roles in tourism were in the history (McCarthy et al., 2015), some in the nature of the working conditions (Germain et al., 2012), some in the mind sets of people, including co-workers as well as customers (Baum, 2012 and Germain et al., 2012). Still as stated in the interviews conducted by Germain et al. (2012), quite many of the younger males working as pilots would like to see the situation changed and females breaking the boundaries set for them and entering the male dominated working roles. It was also presented that since females and males have different skills by nature, they could both be used as valuable assets at work, and therefore more equal roles would be good (Guerrier and Adib, 2004). The thing that was most suggested by both genders to help increase the equality on this matter was role models (Baum & Cheng, 2015 and Germain et al., 2012). Having females as role models and talking in events could inspire more women to apply and work their way up to the higher positions and bit by bit change the way people perceive the working roles in the tourism industry.


References:
Baum, T. (2012) Working in the skies: Changing representations of gendered work in the airline, 1930-2011. Tourism Management, 33 (5) 1185-1194. Available from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261517711002378. [Accessed 27 April 2015].

Germain, M-L., Herzog, M. J. R. and Hamilton, P. R. (2012) Women employed in male-dominated industries: lessons learned from female aircraft pilots, pilots-in-training and mixed-gender flight instructors. Human resource development international, 15 (4) 435-453. Available from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.proxy.library.lincoln.ac.uk/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=ff7be9ae-b8ea-427a-9495-38d51ed4bc52%40sessionmgr4005&vid=1&hid=4209. [Accessed 26 April 2015].

McCarthy, F., Budd, L and Ison, S. (2015) Gender on the flightdeck: Experiences of women commercial airline pilots in the UK. Journal of air transport management, 47, 32-38. Available from http://www.sciencedirect.com.proxy.library.lincoln.ac.uk/science/article/pii/S0969699715000447. [Accessed 26 April 2015].
Women and migrants in hospitality industry, compare and contrast.
Author: Renate Mazgalvina
The purpose of making a commentary on this paper specifically, is because of a common interest in the subject. Due to the subject being closely related to my own conference paper on Eastern European migrants working in hospitality sector, it was interesting to compare and contrast the similarities of what women with what migrants face in their workplace.

This conference paper asks the question: whether the field of ‘hospitality as work’ which is encompassing many aspects of ‘feminized work’ is the essence of women’s marginalization in the labour market? Author talks about: the continuing dominance of women, (to this it could be added that, as hospitality is the fourth largest employer of migrants, many of these women are immigrants/migrants), working in hospitality industry, only contributes to maintaining the socially constructed stereotypes, regarding feminine versus masculine work (McDowell et al, 2008).

Equally to what is talked about in my own conference paper, in terms of migrants, in this paper author talks about certain hospitality jobs, being perceived as particularly suitable for women, the reason for this, as Shaw & Williams (2002) explain, is that these jobs are regarded as fitting for people, disadvantaged in the labour market. These positions are mostly lower-end, with limited training opportunities, which require flexibility, soft skills and nurturing people (Zampoukos & Ioannides, 2011), consequently these are jobs that don’t require big decision making. In this paper author compares how, for jobs that are filled by men, the complete opposite is true – the more power and responsibilities the better.

Quote from this paper: “As these female dominated roles involves a lot of customer service, one must always be ready to serve and help, and listen to a lot of complaints. … employees must always look nice and neat and presentable, as well as keep their thoughts and personal views to themselves when at work (Baum, 2012). … females have faced bad working conditions, discrimination and depreciation in their work, and from all this a question came to my mind. Since the female dominated jobs are not as easy as people sometimes tend to think because they are lower-paid and so on, and men are perceived to be better in stress handling as well as stronger both mentally and physically, why aren't they doing these jobs?”

This point made by the author seams questionable, as the arguments provided are quite weak; if the working conditions would be better and the women would get higher pay, for the jobs they do, would that make it less stressful?, or is this suggesting that it would be less stressful and easier for women to work in managerial positions? According to Lazarus (1966) “stress is a condition or feeling experienced. When a person perceives that, demands exceed the personal and social resources, the individual is able to mobilize”. Hence according to him, any job will, on one occasion or another, create stressful situations. Or if, by the arguments, it is intended to suggest that jobs that require, as stated in this paper: ‘always looking nice and presentable, as well as keeping thoughts and personal views to themselves, when at work (Baum, 2012)’, the reasons it is perceived to be hard and stressful, would that mean that managers can always say what they want, to the clients, or not be presentable at the work place? In hospitality industry everyone has to be excellent at customer service, especially the managers, as they have to deal with the unsatisfied customers, for example. Although the point made is valid, the argument made is a little one sided and would need to include at least some examples, of how stressful is the managerial level positions to be able to illustrate and prove it.

The author makes interesting points about the hospitality industry and points out, how women are well represented in the industry, but tend to be working at a service or clerical rather than professional or decision-making level. Although it doesn't highlight the role tourism plays in empowering women politically, socially and economically. It does recognise important factors that must be worked on in this industry: closing the gender gap, providing equal opportunities at the work place, to move to managerial positions and ending all stereotyping and discrimination.



References:

Baum, T. (2012). Working in the skies: Changing representations of gendered work in the airline, 1930-2011. Tourism Management, 33 (5) 1185-1194. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261517711002378. (Accessed on: 11/5/2015).

Lazarus, R. S. (1966). Psychological stress and the coping process. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

McDowell, L. Batnitzky, A., & Dyer, S. (2008). Internationalization and the spaces of temporary labour: The global assembly of a local workforce. British Journal of
Industrial Relations, 46(4), 750-770.

Shaw, G., & Williams, A.M. (2002). Tourism employment and labour markets, in: Critical issues in Tourism: a geographical perspective, 165-187. Blackwells: Oxford.

Zampoukos, K. & Ioannides, D. (2011). The Tourism Labour Conundrum: Agenda for New Research in the Geography of Hospitality Workers. Hospitality and Society, vol.1:1
Gender roles in tourism and barriers to women.
Author: Charlotte Hope
The main purpose for commenting on this paper is due to a common interest in the subject and therefore it has been the subject of my own paper and is highly similar, as I researched and studied the barriers to women in the tourism and hospitality industry and how these can be abolished.

The author goes into more detail about how women are taught from a young age which roles are acceptable for them to go into and then later on has some similar points to my own. The author has given a good detail of the reasons in which women may be put off by going for higher roles and the gender differences within such roles. It is interesting to note that the author has stated that the roles for males are more appreciated.

Furthermore it is interesting that the author has started with the gender differences at such a young age, with the children being told what is an acceptable job role for each gender, making it more difficult for women to access certain roles or believe they can do so throughout life. It could be suggested to take this point further to then look at Baum (2015) and how it is so important for women to have role models in executive roles in tourism and therefore eliminate this gender issue in the industry. This has been useful for my own research as it can also explain why women have less confidence in themselves later in life of achieving these roles and closing the gap, it could be a good idea to mention this later on in the author’s paper (Women Matter, 2013).

The author has made an interesting point on the difficulty of female roles in the industry, yet women are thought to be highly vulnerable in the tourism workplace, it may be a good idea to go into more detail of the vulnerability of women and why this is an issue and perhaps inhibits them from wanting to go further (Baum, 2013). Moreover, the author looks closer into the roles that are undertaken by women in comparison to men and they are much harder in terms of labour and working hours. People 1st (2010) suggest that there are five major barriers for women in closing the gap between gender and this could be a good idea to look at for this paper as it suggests women have even more barriers later on than men due to family life balance, traditional views of the roles and the recruitment process. Ho (2013) suggests that as more women study tourism at degree level and should be set to go onto higher roles there are more important factors within the industry that could be facing females and keeping the gender difference. The author could look at this in the future and build upon the solid research which has already being conducted to gain a clear understanding of why there is still the gender role differences in the industry and how this can be changed in the future.




References
Baum, T. (2013) International Perspectives on Women and Work in Hotels,    Catering and Tourism, International Labour Office, Working paper 1, [Online]. Available from: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---gender/documents/publication/wcms_209867.pdf [Accessed: 24th March 2015]. 
Ho, Z. (2013) Revisiting the glass ceiling: career progression for women in the hotel industry, Boston Hospitality review. [Online] Available from: http://www.bu.edu/bhr/files/2012/09/BHR-v1n2-ho.pdf [Accessed: 26th March 2015]. 
Women Matter. (2014) GCC Women in Leadership- from the first to the norm. [Online] McKinsey & Company. Available from: http://www.mckinsey.com/features/women_matter [Accessed 20th April 2015].