Cracked, Not Crushed: The Glass Ceiling of Gender Parity
“An investment in gender inclusive growth is positively correlated to firm performance”
The travel and tourism sector is uniquely positioned on gender parity as nearly 70% of the workforce are already women. Unlike industries such as engineering and manufacturing that struggle to attract a female workforce even at an entry level, the tourism sector enjoys a distinct lead in achieving gender parity. Despite having a healthy gender ratio overall, only 40% of women in tourism are in managerial positions, under 20% in general management roles and fewer than 8% occupy board positions. These statistics have considerably improved over the years. It thus, becomes extremely important to celebrate the women who have broken the invisible but apparent glass ceiling. With an increasing number of talented women in senior leadership positions, the question, then is not how to attract them but how to retain female talent that can grow into C-suite or board level positions.
There are many variables that sponsor the notion of ‘glass ceiling’ and hamper female progression in the workspace. The most prominent though, are culturally ingrained dynamics and unconscious gender biases that fuel unhealthy stereotypes such as limiting job descriptions of female employees to those that require ‘soft skills’. While these impressions about gender biases may continue to persist, it is undeniable that women themselves need to take charge and thrust forward in their careers. There is enough research to support that men tend to be better advocators of themselves, whereas women are more likely to shy away from self-promoting actions. Some facts: Men are twice as likely to ask for a promotion or raise than women are and just as likely to get one. Women, on average, earn 79 cents for every dollar men make. While men are promoted based on potential, women get opportunities based on past accomplishments. These facts aren’t to say that women are inherently placed to a disadvantage, just that they need to be prepared and undaunted to put themselves out there and grow into leadership or board level positions.
Admirably, there are more than a few trailblazing women that have ‘leaned in’ and grown to high ranks in their respective organizations. Sonia Cheng, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Kathleen Taylor and Niki Leondakis have held or continue to hold CEO/President positions at prominent hospitality firms. Likewise, there are multiple female leaders in vital VP positions in hospitality and 30 of them are recognized here. Clearly, one section of the industry has been quicker in embracing female leadership; the cruise line sector. Three prime cruise companies; Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Crystal Cruise; have all had female leadership at the helm of the business in recent years. Moreover, one of the largest organizational bodies in travel and tourism; the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), appointed Gloria Guevara Manzo as its new and first female President and CEO.