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 Iâ€™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 Iâ€™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 itâ€™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 arenâ€™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 donâ€™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.
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].