Key Words: Occupational Segregation; Limited Opportunities; Pay Gap; Stereotyping; Cultural Perspectives; Aviation; Flight Attendants; Pakistan
Gender inequality has been a social construct since the beginning of time and although we are in the 21st century it is still present and imposes challenges for women within the workplace. Segregation regarding gender can be seen within the tourism industry, despite 70% of their workforce being women. Nevertheless, women are mostly hired in poor paid and unskilful jobs, such as cleaners; whilst, more men are given managerial roles - reinforcing the gender stereotyping of roles within the industry (Baum, 2013).
Aviation is a segment within the industry which offers the most noticeable trends for gender stereotyping. Ryanair offers insightful figures that provide evidence to the discrimination they impose – only 1.44% of pilots are women whilst 69% of flight attendants are, similarly, their average pilot salary is £65,838 and £18,333 is the annual pay for cabin crew. Most jobs within airline companies require highly skilled staff; however, people do not consider a flight attendant’s role to be skilful, explaining the significant pay gap they are left with. Other ways women are discriminated against is the requirements of appearance needed to be a successful candidate; masked as safety precautions women have to be of certain height, weight and should look a certain way to be considered as a flight attendant. Nevertheless, it is not just the companies that employ this shocking behaviour but passengers too, flight attendants have been called ‘trolley dollies’, asked to ‘join the mile high club’ and are sometimes sexualised ever since the media phenomenon, for instance the music video Toxic by Britney Spears has had some impacts on the perceptions of these workers. This mistreatment and disrespect create negative working environments for women and do not help with the strenuous work they actually provide (Rinaldi and Salerno, 2019).
There is a clear correlation between the employment rates of women in more economically developed countries (MEDCs) compared to low economically developed countries (LEDCs), for example: 2.1% of Egypt’s tourism workforce are women whilst 55% of Czech Republics are. Some communities provide more difficulty for women to be triumphant regarding work: 132 million girls are out of an education: Therefore, 132 million women in the future will find it tougher to get a well-paid occupation and escape the low-skilled jobs tourism offers; reinforcing this is the notion that even when girls are able to receive an education, certain cultures only teach them domesticated roles like cooking, cleaning and caring. Research shows that Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo place within the top 5 of ranking with the largest gender gap – all of these countries, with the exception of the Democratic Republic of Congo all follow the religion of Islam. Whilst Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Nicaragua all practice Christianity and have the lowest gender gap. This implies that religion and cultures have some sort of encouragement on the segregation of women (Sadaquat and Sheikh, 2011).
More focus on Pakistan shows that 76% of women are unemployed, and 3.2% of those who are employed work within the tourism industry and are issued 41.3% less pay. The societal gender bias of Pakistan is the highest in the world, with an unfortunate percentage of 99.81%, this is down to the political, educational and occupational barriers Pakistani women are against. Tourism requires a basic literacy rate, but with over 22 million children – majority being female - without an education there is a low likelihood of them receiving employment for the industry (Sadaquat and Sheikh, 2011).
Tourism also has low statistics for the retainment of women compared to men. Three key reasons for this have been examined. The first factor that impacts women retention is the little chance of progression women are offered: 72.2% of part-time hotel employees are women; however, there are limitations to the progression opportunities for part-time workers due to most higher ranked job require more hours and information or training is not offered. Many females cannot work additional hours due to family priorities and childcare, benefits such as Universal Credit also make part-time employment more attractive. This brings us to our second reason – starting a family: Between 30 and 34 (on average) women have their first child, after maternity leave childcare is expensive and the low wages offered probably would go directly on childcare. 56.2% of women unfortunately have to make changes to their employment to make way for childcare. More shockingly, employers consider mothers less of an asset to them and therefore promotions are unlikely. The final main point for low retention rates is the harassment and bullying women face at work: As mentioned, in the tourism industry, flight attendants are sexualised, and holiday representatives are often harassed on a daily basis if they work for club 18-30 (Rinaldi and Salerno, 2019).
Women should not still have unfair treatment due to their gender; this is a social implication that needs to be abolished for the benefits of our future daughters. Women are not just cleaners, they are managers, owners, and bosses.
Baum, T. (2013) International Perspectives on Women and Work in Hotels, Catering and Tourism. Working Paper 1. Switzerland: ILO Publications.
Rinaldi, A. and Salerno, I. (2019) The Tourism Gender Gap and its Potential Impact on the Development of the Emerging Countries. Quality and Quantity, 54, 1465-1477.
Sadaquat, M.B. and Sheikh, Q.A. (2011) Employment Situation of Women in Pakistan. International Journal of Social Economics, 38(2).