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A discussion as to whether Spanish Society impacts Women Role in the Tourism Industry.

A discussion as to whether Spanish Society impacts Women Role in the Tourism Industry.
Author: Adriana Rodriguez Torres
1 Commentries
Abstract: Spanish women have always been in the background. However, nowadays, the traditional values that have been installed in Spanish society have to hinder women professional development. This paper will analyse the challenges faced by a woman who has been working in the tourism industry for 17 years.

Keywords: Women, Gender inequalities, Spanish Culture, Tourism, Hospitality.

Women have a crucial role in Spanish society from the early stages. However, their rights have always been linked to the patriarchal values that have characterised Spanish culture. According to Gibson (1993), traditionally, Spanish women were considered the ones in charge of the house and family while their husbands worked and brought economic value to the household. During the Franco dictatorship, females were in the background of husbands. The dictator decided to implement gender policies that denied women any individual autonomy (Gibson, 1993). At these times, females needed written consent from their husbands to be able to do certain activities. However, after Franco died, Spain started the transition process into democracy. During this period, women started to be more independent than before. Even though new legislation had been approved for women inclusion in the working environment, a portion of these workers was still suffering from sexual assaults from male colleagues (Gibson, 1993).

The traditional values and beliefs settled in the Spanish culture created several challenges for women when entering the workplace (Gibson, 1993). Furthermore, the main findings obtained from this research highlighted that traditional values that were settled in Spanish culture are still present in today's society, limiting women role in the workplace and obstructing female professional development. As a result, women presence in the tourism industry in the last few decades has increased, becoming a majority of the workers of this industry. Therefore, an interview was conducted to investigate the impacts and challenges Spanish culture has on women working within the tourism and hospitality industry. The interviewee was a woman with two children working in the tourism and hospitality industry for 17 years.

The main findings obtained from this interview process suggested that her husband forced the interviewee at the time to start working in the tourism industry because her ex-husband was earning more at that time, making the interviewee change into a different job sector in order for them both to be able to find a balance between their jobs and family. Furthermore, the participant mentioned that employers applied different procedures between males and females candidates during some of the recruitment processes. For example, in the first interview, she got for a boat shipping company, the employer measured her waist, chest, and hips, while male candidates were not required. Suggesting that even though Spanish society has evolved and women rights are similar to males, employers still use employees physical appearances to encourage customers to engage. As Nickson et al. (2001) stated, using employees physical appearance as a technique to attract more customers is known as aesthetic labour. Several companies in the hospitality industry use young females to achieve competitive advantage over competitors (Nickson et al., 2001).

Furthermore, the interviewee finds that now that her children are adults and have the experience and the time to work, employers discard her because of her age limitation to perform the job. However, as Boone et al. (2013) suggested, some of the challenges women face in the workplace are due to self-imposed barriers that can arise because of the employers or the employees' values and culture. The participant argues that her age has become a limitation when she tries to find a job in Spain's tourism and hospitality industry. She suggests that other countries see age as an asset rather than a weakness when obtaining a job in the hospitality and tourism sector.

This topic has been investigated in this paper due to the disparency between genders in the tourism and hospitality industry, especially in Spain where the population is majority form by the older generations with traditional values implemented in Spain throughout the years. Although Spain culture has evolved with democracy, traditional values and beliefs remain within the population, limiting the possible advancements and introduction of more cosmopolitan values, which will contribute to society's development and contribute to the reduction of inequalities between genders. However, Spanish society is changing, and the discrepancies between genders have been reduced. Nevertheless, there is still research to be done to reduce these differences and increase women's presence in male-dominated industries.


Gibson, I. (1993) España. Girona: Ediciones B.

Nickson, D., Warhurst, C., Witz, A. and Cullen, A.M. (2001) The Importance of Being Aesthetic: Work, Employment and Service Organization. In: A. Sturdy, I. Grugulis and H. Willmott (eds.) Customer Service: Empowerment and Entrapment. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 170-190.

Boone, J., Veller, T., Nikolaeva, K., Keith, M., Kefgen, K. and Houran, J. (2013) Rethinking a Glass Ceiling in the Hospitality Industry. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 54(3) 230-239. Available from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258130555_Rethinking_a_Glass_Ceiling_in_the_Hospitality_Industry [Accessed 01 June 2021].
Commentating on 'A discussion as to whether Spanish Society impacts Women Role in the Tourism Industry'
Author: Megan Crouch
My decision to provide a commentary on this discussion paper is based upon its focus of an intriguing topic that draws upon the wider discussion and importance of women in tourism; it adds an interesting element of discourse surrounding Spanish society and culture, and it's influence on working within the tourism industry.

The author has effectively highlighted the history of Spain's society in relation to gender and family structures. Gibson (1993) is used to narrate the inferiority of women in relation to men, particuarly regarding their ability to work and develop career paths during the Franco era. The discussion also identifies how society has since developed, with women becoming more individualistic in their career choices. Additionally, the limitations faced by women at work in Spain's contemporary society, such as sexual assault, are also highlighted.

This discussion paper contains primary research, whereby an interview is conducted with a female worker within the tourism industry in Spain. Findings from the interview successfully demonstrate how women still face constraints when working within the tourism industry, namely, being judged on their physical appearances and age, ultimately highlighting the major discrepancies between the treatment of male and female workers within tourism. The author has used these findings to support Nickson et al. (2001), arguing the aesthetic labour carried out by women demonstrates the need for increased social change regarding the treatment of women within employment in Spain.

There is opportunity for this discussion to be strengthened further, with the inclusion of more contemporary literature as secondary research, along with further exploration into existing research of female constraints of working within the tourism sector in Spain specifically. For instance, there is currently a significant gender pay gap within hospitality in Spain, with men earning a 30% higher salary than women on average, as well as having more seniority and supervisory positions in comparison to women (Casado- Diaz et al., 2020). Future research should focus on issues such as the gender pay gap, in order to evaluate how the treatment of women within the tourism industry is currently positioned within Spanish society.


Casado-Diaz, J.M., Driha, O. and Simon, H. (2020) The Gender Wage Gap in Hospitality: New Evidence from Spain. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 1-19.

Gibson, I. (1993) España. Girona: 2nd Edition.

Nickson, D., Warhurst, C., Witz, A. and Cullen, A.M. (2001) The Importance of Being Aesthetic: Work, Employment and Service Organization. In: A. Sturdy, I. Grugulis and H. Willmott. Customer Service: Empowerment and Entrapment. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 170-190.