WEEKLY NEWS | Women in Travel and the gender gap
The travel industry and their focus on women, is no different than any other industry that catered to a male dominated society. As we move forward, and have had shocking revelations with the METOO movements, and women empowerment groups coming forward, there has been a societal shift where women are beginning to see the benefits of collaborating and working together to continue to raise awareness. Women’s voices are becoming louder and louder, and they are becoming more brave about the things they want. In the travel industry, it has been no different. We speak to the areas of women in business, women who travel, and the businesses that are catering to women in the travel industry to discuss how things are progressing for them.
When it comes to equal pay and status for women in business, it has been made clear that for women in the travel industry has it’s challenges. As women move further up the ladder, there are fewer and fewer women who are in senior positions. Michelle Lee, founder of Women in Travel (Winit), says "I've been in the travel industry for almost 30 years," Lee said. "As I progressed in my career and the more senior I became, I noticed how many less women there were in the room." She goes on to say that, "This issue is not unique to our industry," Lee said. "The part that is very different about [the travel industry] when you're looking at metrics, over 60% to 65% of the workforce in hospitality are already women. And yet the more senior you go, the less women there are. What that provides us with is a unique opportunity. Where there are other sectors, such as manufacturing and engineering, where you first have to get women in and then get them up, we already have a very strong, over 50% [of the] workforce, so our goal is to get women up." As seen above, “women are often concentrated in low status, low paid, and precarious jobs in the tourism industry. Gender stereotyping and discrimination mean that women mainly tend to perform jobs such as cooking, cleaning and hospitality. In some destinations links have been found between tourism and the sex industry, which could make women more vulnerable to sexual exploitation.” (UNWTO and UN Women, 2011).”
And while women are impacted on the business side of tourism, there are still areas for women travelers where they are not the main focus. Interestingly, women buyers take up much more spending power then men generally, and with travel it is no different. “They [Women] make globally 80% of the purchase decisions, in which of course many everyday goods are included” (Rosmann, 2006, p. 26). Women also make the travel decisions in 92% of households in the USA, which includes business travels as well. Women are a lot more conscious of the products that are purchased and how that impacts the environment and as such women tend to be more loyal to a product/service. So naturally, the thought that presentations and products are generally geared towards men, is confusing.
Places like the luxury Dukes Hotel has a “Dutchess” floor where its all decorations & amenities catering to women, because the industry has always had men deciding on the concepts that have no relation to women travelers. Slowly you begin to see these types of concepts where buildings will have a dedicated floor for entirely women. "It's a very white, male industry," said Lalia Rach, an industry consultant and former dean at New York University's Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. "Is it changing? Yes. But it is changing glacially. The sea of change is far too slow."
We are also experiencing these changes when it comes to which gender is traveling more. Statistics are showing that as women are progressing more in the economical area where their pay are becoming more equal to men, women are traveling more these days especially as business travel has become more common. According to the Journal of Transport Economy, “More recently, young women have overtaken men on some indicators, most notably educational attainment. It would be surprising if these important demographic and social changes were not influencing mobility…”
There has been an increase with women as solo travelers than before. According to a 2014 Booking.com survey, “72 percent of American women like to travel solo. Research company Hitwise found that the 55 percent solo travel searches in the United Kingdom are made by women, driven in particular by women ages 25-34 living in London.”
”Women today have more means and fewer obligations than women of past generations. Logistically, travel is just more doable. But it’s not just increased access and time that have prompted women to travel, it’s the perception that travel is self-care. Taking a vacation is a shortcut to wellness and self-actualization, two things in which women are investing lots of time and money. “
It is clear that women have a huge influence on the travel industry, whether in business or as a consumer, and their purchasing power & voice is where we will see the change derive from.
Are you interested in traveling solo? Are you a woman working in the travel industry? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
The Luxe and Lavish Travels Team