Does the Hospitality Industry Provide ‘Dignity’ at Work for Women?

Subject: Tourism
Pages: 33
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Study level: Undergraduate


The hospitality industry might be one of the biggest industries but it certainly does not provide dignity at work for women. Studies have been done to assess this issue. The hospitality industry still does not recruit, promote and support women on an equal basis as men (Fagenson, 3-18, 1993). Men argue that the hospitality industry cannot provide dignity at work for women, because these women do not have the required educational background, skills and work experience. This is not true. The reason why women are not given the amount of respect they deserve is because they are discriminated against. More women have enrolled in higher education in the past decades. Women receive more undergraduate degrees than men. In 1970 they received 42% of all undergraduate degrees. This percentage rose to 53% in 1970 and 57.4% in 2002 (Fernandez, et al, n.p. 1993).

The employees of this industry have a very high exposure to different customers as today the industry does not provide just food and bed but they provide everything a guest needs. Sometimes this high social interaction between the employees and the customers or the fact that some waitresses are required to wear sexually suggestive uniforms, creates a negative impression. The customer confuses this service with entertainment and starts asking favors and this leads to women being deprived of their dignity (Cobble, n.p. 1991). Fortune magazine did a polling of chief executives. 201 chief executives of the nation’s largest companies were polled. Only 16% believed that in the next 20 years the head of their company will be a woman (Brownell, 101-117, 1994). The problem is not just that women are not allowed to advance in their career but also that they are paid less. The Equal pay act came in to force in 1975, yet after so many years men still earn almost 17% more than women. This gap is more in private sector where the percentage rises to 22 %(Doherty, n.p. 2006).


Hospitality industry is one of the oldest industries in the world. Any business whose primary objective is to serve people outside private home is known as a part of hospitality industry. It includes hotels, food services, casinos and tourism (Barrows, n.p. 1999).

The hospitality industry has the largest numbers of employees. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated that there will be a raise in number of employees in the hospitality industry. It was predicted that the number of hospitality employees will rise to 12.4 million people. American Hotel and Lodging Association said that in 2003 the lodging industry made almost $105.3 billion and in 2004 it almost $113.7 billion profit was made. This profit is still growing every year (Reigel, 3-13, 1998).

In UK there are about 1.6 million people working in the hospitality industry. The British Hospitality Association has estimated that the hospitality industry has almost 127,000 businesses out of which there are 22,000 hotels and guest houses and 16,000 bed and breakfasts (UK’s Prospects, 2007).

Between 1960s and 1980s, the industry grew tremendously and created jobs for many people. As the industry grew, the number of women employed in this industry also grew. In 1960 women made up 33% of the workforce, in 1980 they made up 43% and in 1990 their percentage grew to 45%. According to an analysis of female employment by the international labor office, about 40% of 2.8 billion workers of the world are women (ILO, n.p. 2004).

Regardless of all the improvements women are not given an equal share, in terms of job responsibilities, pay and dignity. They are also inequitably hired, promoted and rewarded. Workplaces do not accept the empowerment of women, because in this male-dominated society it is believed that the right place for a woman is her home and to prove this they make sure these working women are discriminated, demoralized and stripped of their dignity (Maclean, 42, 1999).

Women are not allowed to work at their best level. If they are given all the opportunities men get and are allowed to work at their full potential then, according to communities’ secretary, Ruth Kelly, United Kingdom’s economy can benefit up to £23bn every year (BBC UK, n.p. 2006). Like wise imagine if they are given equal opportunities in every other country and every other industry, how much profit will they generate?

Men argue that the hospitality industry cannot provide dignity at work for women, because these women do not have required educational background, skills and work experience. This is not true. The reason why women are not given the amount of respect they deserve is because they are discriminated. More women have enrolled in higher education in the past decades. Men receive lesser number of undergraduate degrees than women. In 1970 women received almost 42% of undergraduate degrees, which a good percentage is keeping in mind the situations these women have to go through. This percentage is rising and almost 54% women received undergraduate degrees in the year 2002. The number of women studying hospitality and tourism programs has also increased. In 1971 there were only 9.1% of women obtaining bachelors degree in hospitality whereas, 50% women obtained bachelors degree in 2002. The percentage of master’s degree rose from 3.9% in 1970 to 41.1% in 2002 whereas, the percentage of doctorate degree rose from 2.8% to 35.4% (U.S Census Bureau, n.p. 2005).

Women are striving hard, working and taking care of their homes at the same time but they are not given the dignity and respect they deserve. They do not have equal opportunities as men. They are given more responsibilities and lesser pay. Number of women has definitely increased in the hospitality industry, but this number does not represent women in higher management. According to Segal and Zellner, women are not equally represented. With our attitude and pace we require almost 475 more years in order to give women the opportunities they deserve (Sorano, 2, 2003).

The hospitality industry is very diverse. Let’s look at the table III in appendix A. The table jots down all the Industries that come under “hospitality industry”.

ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) is an organization in U.K which takes care of issues relating to employment and workplace. England, Scotland and Wales have about 11 main regional centers. According to ACAS:

Employees expect to be treated fairly and considerately. It is illegal to discriminate against people at work on the grounds of: Age, Disability, Gender, Race, Religion or belief, Sex and Sexual orientation” (ACAS, n.p.2007).

Statement of the Problem

The hospitality industry might be one of the biggest industries but it certainly does not provide dignity at work for women. Studies have been done in order to assess this issue. The hospitality industry still does not recruit, promote and support women on an equal basis as men. Brownell (1994) conducted a research which studies the gender differences which hinder career advancement for women in this industry. He recommended that the industry it self should take the responsibility of this difference. The purpose of this study was to examine industry recruiters’ perception of significant factors that facilitate or constrain the advancement of a woman’s career. Many other studies have been done in order to find out why sexual discrimination and sexual harassment prevails in the hospitality industry. Our research will certainly benefit the hospitality industry in general. The recruiters and the management of the industry will understand the issues relating to women’s dignity at work.

Research Questions

  1. Does the hospitality industry provide dignity at work for women in the workplace in terms of giving fair and equal pay and job descriptions to male and women workers?
  2. Is sexual discrimination and sexual harassment more prevalent in the hospitality industry? If so, what could be the reasons behind it?
  3. Are there gender differences which effect women’s career advancement?
  4. What can be done in order to reduce gender barriers and provide dignity at work for women?

Assumptions and Limitations

Let’s look at some assumptions we made for this study. I assumed that all the respondents of our survey understood clearly what they were asked, and understood all the terms and definition used in the questions. I also assumed that these respondents answered each question with honesty without biasing it based on gender or any other issue. The result of this dissertation is based on the survey done by Yan Zhong. The data was taken from his survey and it was analysed according to our topic. His survey was voluntary and therefore the sample size may not be that big. Considering this we can also understand that a bigger sample size gives a better result. Next it was noted that there were more females in his test than males, as this is an interesting topic for the females. Last we can see that this survey was done depending on his requirements therefore we have taken the data that is relevant to our study.

Definition of Terms

The following terms are directly related to the study hence a little bit of explanation of each is given. Some other terms are discussed in the text as necessary.


Dignity is defined as “the state of being worthy or honor or respect” (The Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary, 403, 2007). Human dignity means that all humans are worth honor and respect regardless of their age, sex, health or social status, political or religious beliefs and their ethnic group. In other words every individual owes this respect just because he or she is a human. This worthiness is described by International Laws as human rights (Aubanova, n.p. 2006).

Working women are not given the respect and honor they deserve. They are considered as second class citizens and are deprived of their dignity on the whims of males. In the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, Hillary Clinton remarked that we can never prosper if we do not see that women rights are actually human rights. She also stated that we should all help women in gaining full dignity. Not only we should respect them but also protect them (n.p. 1995).

Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry as said before serves people outside their private homes. It includes hotels, eating and drinking establishments and travel services. The employees of this industry have a very high exposure to different customers as today the industry does not provide just food and bed but they provide everything a guest needs. Sometimes this high social interaction between the employees and the customers or the fact that some waitresses are required to wear sexually suggestive uniforms, creates a negative impression. The customer confuses this service with entertainment and starts asking favors and this leads to women being deprived of their dignity.

Sexual Discrimination

Sexual discrimination means discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy or potential pregnancy. For example if a company does not want to hire married women saying that they will not be able to fulfill the requirement of the job, is sexual discrimination (Taylor, et al, n.p. 2000).

Sexual Harassment

Creating a hostile or offensive work environment which might intimidate or embarrass an individual is known as sexual harassment. This might even include staring or making offensive jokes (Woods, et al, 16-22, 1994).

The current trend in the hospitality industry is to create such an environment which lets the customer forget all his worries and feel relaxed. Sometimes this environment gives an impression to the customers that even the hotel staff exists for their convenience. This sometimes is not the fault of the customer as, the staff is required to flirt or sell sexuality as a job requirement (Gilbert, et al, n.p. 1998).

According to ACAS in their “Guide for Employers and Employees”, there are certain rules and regulations in a workplace which should be followed by every employer and employee. In their guide they have listed down the rules explaining that these apply to all ‘employment and vocational training’. According to ACAS there should be no direct or indirect sexual discrimination, or harassment. By this they mean that just because somebody is a female or has different sexual preferences, it does not give the right to harass him. ACAS defines sexual harassment as any unwanted behavior. Such behavior is usually offensive, degrading and humiliating. This behavior not only strips the person off his dignity but creates an unbearable work environment. Such work environment may make a person less productive. ACAS also explains that nobody can victimize anyone now that they have planned to lodge complain against the person who is subjecting them to this harassment (ACAS, 2005, 3).

Review of Related Literature

Human Dignity and Dignity at Work

The expression ‘human dignity’ comes from two Latin words, humus and decus. Humus mean what is earthly or an earthling whereas, decus means ornament, distinction, honor or glory. Dignity means the entitlement of respect. It is the highest possible value which affects us at the deepest possible level (Lebech, 1, 2004.).

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created to ensure that all people will be accorded the dignity that is due them. Article 23 states the following for the benefit of people who work for a decent living:

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection (United Nations, n.p. 1998).

Women’s Dignity in a Workplace

The workplace has been for decades, dominated by males. Many career development theories were developed, but almost none of them considered females in their study (Schrieber, n.p.1998).

Gender differences exist in the expectations and acceptance of emotional expression” (Bierema & Opengart, n.p. 2002).

Super studied five stages of career development, these five stages were; growth, exploration, establishment, maintenance and disengagement.Though the study was praised a lot, it was also critiqued for ignoring women’s career path, which was said to be non-linear as women were constantly moving in and out of the work place (Bierema & Opengart, n.p. 2002).

Gender Discrimination/ Sexual Discrimination

A research was done by Woods and Kavanaugh which states that more than 80% of men and women believe that there is gender discrimination among the employees. They mailed a survey which contained 49 questions to 1,550 hospital managers. 58% of these respondents were women. Results showed that in many cases women left the hospitality industry and the reason was gender discrimination (Woods & Kavanaugh, 16-22, 1994).

Gender Discrimination/ Sexual Discrimination
Fig 1 Source (Schwartz, 115, 1992).

Schwartz illustrated a pyramid showing how gender discrimination reduces the chances of career development in women. As we can see that women represent almost 50% of the workforce of entry level managers. This percentage is reduced to 26% in middle and 11% in upper management. There is only 3% of women representation in senior management positions. This is a clear picture of gender discrimination (115, 1192).

Table I shows the representation of women in different positions in the hospitality industry. As we can see that the representation of women are less in higher management positions, whereas they might represent males at a lower level. This shows the discrimination in career advancement of women (Federation of hotels and restaurant associations of India, n.p. 2002).

The Gender Equality Duty requires public bodies to eliminate sex discrimination and promote equality throughout their services, policies, and employment and recruitment practices. Equal Opportunities Commission Chairwoman Jenny Watson said:

The Gender Equality Duty could radically transform the way public bodies deliver services and treat their staff, moving away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach. It has the potential to create public services truly fit for modern Britain, which meet both women’s and men’s different needs.” (The Highland Council, n.p. 2003).

Research conducted in the US in 2002 in which 500 companies where studied, showed that women occupied no more than 15.7 % held managerial positions and only 5.2 % of women were top earners. Most women working in this company held staff positions. Staff positions are not so prominent and therefore women are less likely to receive promotions and attain the very top of job hierarchy. In the line corporate-officer jobs women occupy not more than 1/10 of men-occupied positions. Within each occupation, a considerable hierarchy can be seen. Vertical segregation implies that women quite seldom occupy top posts in management in the European Union and in the rest of the countries (Equal Opportunities Policy and Statements).

Fortune magazine did a polling of chief executives. 201 chief executives took part in this polling. Only 16% believed that in the next 20 years the head of their company will be a woman (Brownell, 101-117, 1994).

The problem is not just that women are not allowed to advance in their career but also that they are paid less. The Equal pay act came in to force in 1975, yet after so many years men still earn almost 17% more than women. This gap is more in private sector where the percentage rises to 22%. The act says that a woman can claim to an employment tribunal if she thinks that she is being paid less than a man, be it in different jobs (Doherty, n.p. 2006).

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a turning point. In barring most firms with at least 15 employees from assigning jobs on the basis of sex, the act made it illegal for employers to impose segregation on workers. Amendments to Title VII and Presidential Executive Orders in the years that followed created a legal foundation for challenging sex segregation. The very existence of such laws serves as reminders to all that a person’s sex should not limit his or her opportunities, and are likewise deterrents of employers that they should provide equal opportunities due their prospective and current employees (GCE, n.p, 2007).

Research funded by the European Commission showed that generally women, who work full-time, receive less then hourly earnings of men. This holds true in the European Union in all professions with equal qualification levels and ages of men and women. Since the implementation of the Equal Pay Act in 1975, women’s salaries have improved. In 1970, women generally earned less than 65 percent of men’s salaries, compared with 74 percent in 1987. A 1990 study of pay in the City of London, the heart of British business, revealed that more than four in every five of the highest-paid jobs are held by men and almost all those earning |pounds~70,000 and above was men. Only in the newer areas of business such as investment banking did women earn more than their male colleagues when matched by age (Women and Equality Unit, n.p. 2005).

The pay gap is partly explained by the fact that women are much more likely to be in lower-grade, lower-paid occupations than men. Another factor contributing to the pay gap is that women in management have less seniority and are rewarded at a lower rate, For example, a regular national salary survey for the British Institute of Management (IM), based on the experiences of over 400 companies with more than 21,000 executives, revealed that women are, on average, seven years younger and have seven years less service with their current company. The pay survey of women in the City of London found a clear age-related factor in that salaries for men and women diverged during their mid-twenties and the gap increased with age (Wren, n.p. 1990). For the first time in recent years, the IM survey found that women averaged a lower pay increase during the year, 9.8 percent, compared with 11.7 percent for men. At the manager level, women earned only 3 percent less than men, but at the director level the gap was 33 percent (Remuneration Economics, n.p. n.d).

Sparrowe and Iverson conducted a survey to examine the disparity of income in the hospitality industry. They found that more covert form of gender discrimination existed in the hospitality industry. Women might get at the same management position but they were definitely paid less than men. They further suggested that these differences have existed for quite some time now and cannot just disappear overnight (4-20, 1999).

Woods conducted another survey in which he asked men and women in the hospitality industry to indicate their pay scale. It was found that the average pay for men was $42,300 and the average pay for women was about $35,900. This data clearly suggests that there is gender discrimination or sexual discrimination among the employees of the hospitality industry. Taking $35,000 to $39,999 as the midrange statistical analysis was done. It was found that 43% of the men had salaries below the mid range and 43% above it. Meanwhile 60% of women had salaries below the midlevel whereas only 20% had salaries above it. Almost 40% women said that sexual discrimination is related to promotion whereas 38% said that it was related to salaries. This data supports that sexual discrimination is prevalent in the industry. If steps are taken in order to create awareness in the industry about this issue, then it is more likely that there will be less discrimination in the future (woods, 16-22, 1994).

Sexual Harassment

Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary is the police force of a council area in Scotland. It has very strict rules and regulations against sexual discrimination. According to its dignity respect at work policy

Harassment’ can be defined as the unwanted physical or verbal behaviour or action related to a personal characteristic of the recipient including their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, ethnic origin, colour, nationality, age, physical ability, impairments, working status, marital or civil partnership status, family relations, and/or staff association/trade union association/non-association” (Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, 2007, 4)

Sexual harassment includes any behavior whether directly or by implication which makes the other person feel degraded, insulted or harassed. This includes:

  1. Any physical advancement or physical contact which the other person does not like
  2. Any sexual favor or demand an individual asks, which again is not welcome
  3. Sexual remarks, comments or jokes which might make the other person feel insulted
  4. Display of sexual material or pictures i.e. showing pornography
  5. Any unwelcome verbal or non verbal physical contact (Federation of hotels and restaurant associations of India, n.p. 2002).

In order to determine whether a behavior is sexual or not it should be considered how the other person feels about it. In other words what may be considered as harassment to one can be considered as merely social interaction to others. In hospitality industry there is a lot of interaction between the customer and the employees, and between employees and management. So it is very difficult to draw a line which will define sexual conduct. For example; a male manager habitually puts his hand on the shoulder of a woman. Now the man had no intentions what so ever of any sexual contact, but the woman took it wrong and complained about him. In this case the manager and the female employee both should be careful. The manager should be careful not to make any physical contact with an employee as this might lead to her believing that he is asking for a sexual favor. A co worker, who is merely telling sexual or dirty jokes in the work place, can be considered as a sexual harasser (Schultz, n.p. 2003).

Table II shows the results of a survey, which studies men and women’s perception about sexual harassment. Everybody had a different perception. As we can see that it is very difficult to draw a line where social contact ends and sexual harassment begins (Ching-tsu Hsueh, 3, n.d.).

According to Equal Employment Commission’s (EEOC) nearly 6,900 sexual harassment claims were filed in 1991. This number increased to 15,000 in 1998. Employers were charged about $7.5 million in 1991 and $49.5 in 1997 (O’Blenes, 49, 1999).

The hospitality industry has been facing very high turn over and high labor costs due to this problem. Despite the growing awareness about this issue in the hospitality industry, it is still a big problem (Davis, 43-46, 1998).

Is Sexual Harassment More Prevalent in the Hospitality Industry?

(A research by Argusa, Jerome. Tanner, John and Coats, Wendy).

There is limited literature that reveals sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. A research conducted by Argusa, Tanner and Coats in 2000, however suggest that the hospitality industry is more likely to have sexual harassment cases than any other industry. Restaurants have an informal workplace, this accelerates sexual behavior. Sometimes this sexual behavior is considered as social interaction, and this has to be tolerated because of the informal environment. Almost 80% of men and women said that this sexual harassment problem was prevalent in the hospitality industry (Anders, 48, 1993). The population of this study consisted of restaurant employees working full time. Almost 25 restaurants from Hong Kong were selected. These were full-service restaurants meaning, the customer comes and sits at the table, the waiter or waitresses take the order and deliver it on the table. The customers are served by the wait staff and after they are finished they leave. Due to time constraint each restaurant was given just 20 questionnaires. The managers asked their employees to fill the questionnaires voluntarily and anonymously.

The questions in this survey were developed by a researcher. The research questionnaire developed for this study included questions pertaining to demographics, perceptions of sexual harassment, behaviors of sexual harassment, awareness of a sexual harassment policy, and personal experience in reference to sexual harassment. The scale values assigned 1 to “strongly agree,” 2 to “agree,” 3 to “neither agree nor disagree,” 4 to “disagree,” and 5 to “strongly disagree”. Respondents gave their best answer giving it in numbers which defines their extent of belief in that statement. 500 questionnaires were given out and only 344 came back with answers that make up to 68% response (.688%). The data were computed and analyzed using the SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) statistical program. The age groups of the respondents were broken down into three groups and a one-way analysis of variance. More than one third of the respondents believed that sexual harassment was more prevalent in the hospitality industry. Almost 65% said that it was not prevalent more in the hospitality industry than in any other industry, these people believed that sexual harassment was same in all the industries. Almost 47.4% said that they had no sexual harassment policy and that they should have one. 11% said that they were sexually harassed. If only one of these 11% women who have been sexually harassed file a case against the restaurant, the restaurant can go out of business. So it is better to have a policy and complete check on this issue. (Argusa, et al, n.p. 2000).

Women in Hospitality Industry

“The family picture is on HIS desk.

-Ah, a solid, responsible man.

The family picture is on HER desk.

-Umm, her family will come before her career.

HE is talking with his co-workers.

-He must be discussing the latest deal.

SHE is talking with her co-workers.

-She must be gossiping

HE’S having lunch with the boss.

-He’s on the way up.

SHE’S having lunch with the boss.

-They must be having an affair.

HE’S getting married.

-He’ll get more settled.

SHE’S getting married.

-She’ll get pregnant and leave.

HE’S having a baby.

-He’ll need a raise.

SHE’S having a baby.

-She’ll cost the company money in maternity benefits.

HE’S going on a business trip.

-It’s good for his career.

SHE’S going on a business trip.

-What will her husband say?

HE’S leaving for a better job.

-He knows how to recognize a good opportunity.

SHE’S leaving for a better job.

-Women are not dependable. ”

(Cited in Gary, N. Powell. n.p. 1993).

The above poem shows the gender stereotypes of women and men in a workplace. According to U.S Department of labor, almost half of the labor force in 2012 will be represented by women. In 2004 almost 64.7 million women worked in United State’s labor force. People with more education have more chances of becoming an individual in the labor force. In 2004, United States Department of Labor compared and analyzed the employment rates of women with their education. They found women with a: lower school diploma were about 32.5%; women with high school diploma were about 54.1%; women with some college and associate degree were71.5%; and women with bachelor’s degree and higher represented about72.8%. Almost 38% women worked in management whereas; 35% worked in sales and office occupation (U.S. Department of Labor, 2004).

There are more women in the labor force than there are men, but the pay scale of men is definitely higher than that of men. In 1992, women managers earned almost 66% less than males. This gap in salaries may have reduced in some fields, but it certainly prevails in the hospitality industry (Fagenson & Jackson, 3-18, 1993).

The number of women in the hospitality industry is increasing but their representation in the management remains the same. It was found out that in 1995 over 41% of hospitality managers were women (Diaz & Umbreit, 47-57, 1995).

In another study it was found that women represented only 2.5% of the managers of hotels which had more than 500 rooms. The number of women in general manager positions was even lower (Woods, n.p. 1998).

Employment opportunities in the hospitality profession abound all over the world. In the majority of West European countries women predominate in the hotel staff but unfortunately, only a small number of women are in management positions. Purcell postulates that there are three mutually-reinforcing but distinct elements which influence the allocation or denial of particular work to women: labour cost, sexuality and patriarchal prescription (Purcell, n.p.1996).

In the hospitality sphere there also exists a strong gender-segregation in work. Burgess, in her research, claims that there exist considerable discrepancies between the career development and salaries of men and women in the hospitality industry. The most prestigious and, therefore, better-paid job positions are occupied by men (Burgess, n.p. 2003).


The aim of this research was to find out certain factors affect the dignity of women in the hospitality industry. In this chapter we will first discuss the research design, population and sample. The sampling procedures, data collection and data analysis is discussed later on.

A study was then conducted by Ng and Pine who used the same methodological framework as brownell (who has also done a study relating to women’s career advancement). Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used (Ng & Pine, 85-102, 2003).

We will use the same methodological process but with some variations. In our study there were three basic groups of people whose answers to the survey were compared. First it was the hospitality industry recruiters, who are important because they are the ones who in the end will take care of the industry and its employees. Secondly hospitality students were also taken in to consideration because these students are the future of the hospitality industry and last but not the least were the hospitality educators, because they are the ones who can guide the students and tell them the difference between right and wrong. Within each groups genders were also compared i.e. perception of female and male students. The factors affecting were dependent variables but gender and groups were independent of anything. The qualitative measures in the form of open-ended questions were used to gather additional information about what education programs can do to promote women’s career advancement. The Methodology and the data collection were taken from Zhong’s work done in December 2006 (Zhong, n.p. 2006).

Population and Sample

The population consisted of Graduate students, under graduate students and industry recruiters. Three samples were obtained for this research. The first contained students, the second contained educators and the third contained industry recruiters.

There is direct relation ship between sample size and reliability. At least 10 subjects per survey are considered to be an adequate amount, but 5 subjects per survey are also tolerable. Sample size for this study should be between 215 and 430. Minimum sample size should be 200 in order to get good results. Stevens in one of his studies said that all the sample sizes should be approximately equal (Stevens, n.p. 2002).

About 100 educators and 100 recruiters were surveyed for this study. The sample size is a bit small because of lesser number of educators and recruiters availability. The sample size for students was adequate i.e. 150. As we can see that the sample sizes are not that accurate so a variance in the answer is expected.

Sample Description

The sample was taken from selected universities and hospitality industry. Online questions were given and answers were noted. Almost 226 people attempted this online questionnaire. Percentages were taken out in order to summarize all the information.

Total sample

The total sample contained 26% industry recruiters, 47% students and 27% educators. Females in the sample were more, 66.4%, males were 33.6%. Approximately 73% of the people in the sample were Caucasian, 16% were Asian, 3% were Hispanic, 1% each were African American and Native American, and 4% were of other racial or ethnic background. Age ranged from 19 to 74. The mean age of this sample was 34 years. Eighty one percent of the respondents were below 50. Almost 45% were never married.

Student sample

The student sample contained 74% female and 26% male. 71% were Undergraduate students, graduate students were 29%. Approximately 61% were Caucasian and 31% were Asian. About eighty seven percent of the students had hospitality work experience there fore they new about the industry environment and could come up with fair answers. Ninety two percent had worked in the industry less than seven years, and eight percent had worked eight years or more. These students had worked in restaurants and lodgings. The ages of these students ranged from nineteen to fifty one. Seventy six percent of the students were under the age of twenty five. Almost eighty one percent of the students were unmarried. Students were also asked about their plans, whether they wanted to study or work in this area. Out of one hundred only ninety answered this question. Almost 34.4% students wanted to work in the lodgings whereas almost 20% wanted to do event planning. Only 4% wanted to study in the university and do some research. Questions were asked about their future goals. Almost 33.3% of the students said they wanted to be high level managers, almost 20% said that they will not work for anybody else rather they will open their own business. 15.6% of students wanted to pursue their career as teachers and professors in universities. Only 2% of students said they wanted to work in the tourism industry. Almost 6% said that they did not care about the industry and that they will be happy if they had a good job with some international oppprtunities.

Table (a) shows the characteristics of students.

Characteristic Number Percent.

Male 28 26.2
Female 79 73.8
Caucasian 65 60.7
Asian 33 30.8
Hispanic 4 3.7
African-American 1 .9
Other 4 3.7
Hospitality 94 87.9
Other 13 12.1
Sophomore 4 3.7
Junior 23 21.5
Senior 49 45.8
M.S. 13 12.1
PhD 18 16.8
Hospitality work experience
Yes 93 86.9
No 14 13.1
Years of industry experience
Under 1 year 19 17.8
1-3 35 32.7
4-7 32 29.9
8-10 6 5.6
11+ 1 .9
Areas of industry experience
Restaurants 41 38.3
Lodging 24 22.4
Travel/Tourism 5 4.7
Event Planning 5 4.7
Institutional Foodservice 2 1.9
Country/City Clubs 2 1.9
Other 14 13.1

Table (a) i. Source: (Zhong, n.p. 2006).


Under 25 80 76.2
25-35 19 18.1
36+ 6 5.7
Marital Status
Never married 81 75.7
Married/living with a partner 23 21.5
Separated/divorced 3 2.8

Table (a) ii. Source: (Zhong, n.p. 2006).

Educator Sample

This sample was fairer than the student’s sample. It had 52% Females and 48% males. Almost 85% of the people who answered the questions were Caucasian and 3% were Asian. Almost 7% were Hispanic, 3% were Native-American, and 2% were of other racial or ethnic background.

Almost fifty eight educators said that they had some kind of industry experience. Some even had more than 30 years of experience. Almost 31% had 20 years of industry experience whereas half of the educators had experience for more than one discipline.

Almost all the educators had ages between 24 and 27. 47 years was found to be the mean of these ages. Almost 25% had ages under 40 whereas almost 58% were between 41 and 59. Almost all the educators were married.

Table (b) shows the characteristics of the educator sample.

Male 29 48.3
Female 31 51.7
Caucasian 51 85
Asian 2 3.3
Hispanic 4 6.7
Native-American 2 3.3
Other 1 1.7
Instructor 12 20
Assistance Professor 11 18.3
Associate Professor 17 28.3
Professor 14 23.3
Other 6 10.0
Bachelor’s 4 6.7
Master’s 15 25.0
Doctorate 39 65.0
Other 2 3.3
Hospitality industry experience
Under 10 years 24 41.4
11 – 20 20 34.5
21 – 40 13 22.4
40+ 1 1.7
Hospitality teaching experience
Under 10 years 23 41.1
11 – 20 19 33.9
21+ 14 21.4


Under 40 11 19.6
41 – 59 35 62.5
60+ 10 17.9
Marital group
Never married 7 11.7
Married/living with a partner 48 80.0
Separated/divorced 5 8.3

Table (b) Source: (Zhong, n.p. 2006).

Recruiter Sample

Almost 59 recruiters answered the questions. It was found that almost 68% of these are females. 32% were found to be males. Out of all the respondents 81% were Caucasian, 2% Asian, 5% Hispanic, 3% African-American, 2% Native-American and 7% with other background. The education level of these recruiters was also noted. It was found that 63% had bachelor’s degree and 22% had done masters. Almost 10% recruiters were in General Manager’s position, 20% were managers, 44% were human resource managers and 24% were just recruiters. Number of years of experience was also noted. It was found that 69% had less than 10 years experience, 29% had more than 20 years of experience and almost 2% were working for more than 30 years. All of this experience might not be for hospitality industry alone, so recruiters were asked exactly how many years they had worked for the hospitality industry. It was found that almost 92% had been in this industry for less than 30 years and almost others had more than 30 years of experience in this industry. Next, their ages were asked. The ages of these recruiters ranged from 24 to 65. Their mean was 40. Almost 7% of the recruiter had ages less than 40 and almost 22% had ages more than 50. Table (c) from Zhong’s study shows the characteristics of the recruiters.


Number Percent.

Male 19 32.2
Female 40 67.8
Caucasian 48 81.4
Asian 1 1.7
Hispanic 3 5.1
Native-American 1 1.7
African – American 2 3.4
Other 4 6.8
General Manager 6 10.3
Area/department manager 12 20.7
HR director / recruiting manager 26 44.8
Recruiter 14 24.1
High school diploma 3 5.1
Community college/hospitality 2 3.4
Community college/non-
1 1.7
Bachelor’s/hospitality 7 11.9
Bachelor’s/non-hospitality 30 50.8
Master’s/hospitality 5 8.5
Master’s/non-hospitality 8 13.6
Other 3 5.1
Hospitality industry experience
Under 10 years 15 30.6
11 – 20 15 30.6
21+ 19 38.8


Under 30 10 17.2
31 – 40 18 31
41 – 50 20 34.5
51+ 10 17.2
Marital group
Never married 13 22.0
Married/living with a partner 37 62.7
Separated/divorced 9 15.3

Table ( C) Source: (Zhong, n.p. 2006).

Discussion of Analysis and Findings

Statistical analysis was done in order to find out if sexual discrimination was prevalent in the industry. For this purpose a questionnaire was given. The people who responded to these questions were students, teachers and recruiters of the industry. Their characteristics have been discussed above. There were differences in answers of males and females. Is sexual discrimination a hindrance in the career advancement of women? The answer for this question had mean value 3.39 for females and 3.81 for males. Three significant differences were found in the group. Let’s first see the mean values of the answers from the students “Male managers treat female employees different than male employees.” The mean for this answer was 3.81 for females and 3.14 for males. “Male employees respond differently for female managers than male managers.” The mean for this question was 3.90 for females and 3.24 for males. “The factors that hinder career advancement are different for males and females.” For this question the mean went down to 3.91 for females and 3.31 for males.

There were three main issues for the recruiters “Females face significant obstacles to career advancement in the hospitality industry.” For this mean was 2.98 for females and 2.00 for males. “The factors that contribute career advancement are different for males and females.” The mean for this answer was calculated to be 3.32 for females and 2.11 for males and, “The factors that constrain career advancement are different for males and females. The mean was 3.68 for females and 2.68 for males.

Let us look at the table (d). This table shows women’s career advancement by gender for three groups.

Table (d): Gender issues on women career advancement by gender of three groups

Gender issue Students (Mean)
Female( n=79) Male n=(28)
FSIGOBST 3.25 3.25
FSTREAT 2.99 3.21
MSTREAT 3.42 3.46
FRESPON 3.37 3.61
MERESPON 3.52 3.61
CONTRFAC 3.52 3.11
CONSTRAFA 3.81 3.39

Source: (Zhong, n.p. 2006).

Note. FSIGOBST = females face significant obstacles to career advancement in the hospitality industry, FSTREAT = female managers/supervisors treat female employees differently than they treat male employees; MSTREAT = male managers/supervisors treat female employees differently than they treat male employees; FRESPON = female employees in the hospitality industry respond differently to female managers than to male managers; MERESPON = male employees in the hospitality industry respond differently to female managers than to male managers; CONTRFAC = the factors that facilitate to career advancement are different for males and females; CONSTRAFA = the factors that constrain career advancement are different for males and females;

As we can see that the above table shows that the means for women are significantly higher in many cases than men. Unless and until everybody understands the exact meaning of sexual discrimination, and what impact does it have on women, it is very difficult to change any thing. The industry will be the same for next two hundred years if such situations are not taken seriously.

Let us look at table (e) and see what the hospitality industry recruiters think about this issue.

Gender issue Hospitality Industry Recruiters (Mean)
Female( n=79) Male n=(28)
FSIGOBST 2.98 2.00
FSTREAT 2.90 2.79
MSTREAT 3.10 2.89
FRESPON 3.43 3.63
MERESPON 3.70 3.21
CONTRFAC 3.32 2.11
CONSTRAFA 3.68 2.68

Table (e). Source: (Zhong, n.p. 2006).

As we can see that the mean for question, “Female face significant obstacles to career advancement in the hospitality industry”, is quite low for men; 2.00. This shows that men do not believe that there is any obstacle in the career advancement of women. Women do not have a very high mean too. But the difference between their answers is very significant. Females believe that factors that constrain women’s career advancement for women are different than men. Women, unlike men have to take care of their homes, children and go through sexual discrimination. These things act as a hindrance. The mean i.e. 3.68 shows that women strongly agree to this point.

Some of the questions in this survey were open ended. Content analysis was performed on such questions. Content analysis is any “technique for making inferences by systematically and objectively identifying specified characteristics of messages” (Nachmias, 324&325, 1996). Nachmias suggested that there were three main points of this analysis technique

  1. The very first and the most important is to describe the point of the question i.e. why is it asked? Is it important for the study? Does it affect the study?
  2. Second is to analyze the respondent’s message depending upon his question i.e. what is he trying to say?
  3. Last but the most important of all, what effects will these bring upon the recipients?

Content analysis also compares contrasts and categorizes the answers. A coding is usually done in order to put the answers in to categories and in the end they are interpreted. (Gall et al, 288, 2003).

Based on these theories the responses were analyzed. All three groups were asked these open ended questions. People usually refrain from answering open ended questions are they are more time consuming hence only 76.7% of the students answered these questions. 41.3% students believed that there was sexual discrimination and that this discrimination can be reduced if education programs taught women how to deal with such obstacles. There were quite a few suggestions also which said that there should be entire course about women in workplace. Others said that instead of electives they should have courses which study gender discrimination and diversity management. 16.3% students said that there should be leadership skills and training. They also mentioned that there should be class activities which have female students as group leader. Suggestions were made to give managerial roles to women in internships so that they have first hand experience. Students suggested that seminars should be held with guest speakers discussing sexual harassment. These guest speakers should be from industry, so that they bring out the actual facts and figures. They suggested that women should attend such lectures and seminars. About 9% of students said that having a mentor to help you prepare yourself before entering the industry can help. This can help women, especially if they want to enter in a leadership position. Almost 3% of the people believed that nothing could be done about this situation and no amount of education, lectures or seminars can make a difference.

Among the educators who answered these open ended questions almost 26% believed that a mentor was necessary for females. A strong female leader will make them understand different aspects which can hinder their carrier and how to deal with them. About 20% suggested that there should be study of diversity and awareness and this could be done by role playing. Other suggestions said that males should also take part in household, because this will help women build their morale. They should also study what a hostile work environment is. 16% educators mentioned that teachers should provide hospitality students with real world case studies and examples. Almost 16% said that women should be aware of the gender discrimination and accept it as it exists. A few even said that we should stop focusing on gender issues but focus on skills and education.

The hospitality industry recruiters (28%) said that leadership was very important in the industry. They said that the teachers who are teaching hospitality subjects should see the curriculum contains real time case studies and that leadership skills are learned. About 18% of the recruiters said that gender discrimination, sexual harassment and other such issues should be discussed in the class as they do exist in the real environment and that woman students should be told how to deal with it. They said that instead of giving sugar coated lectures women should be told exactly what situation is going on in the hospitality industry. They should be shown what kind of challenges women face everyday. These recruiters said that the most important skill was communication and negotiation skill. The also said that forums with female executives should be presented who will tell how they balance their work and family and how they deal with such situations. Guest speakers should be called, seminars should be held and women with good positions and leadership skills should come forward and teach the upcoming workers and students who are still learning hospitality subjects, about this.

In our last research question i.e. what can be done to reduce the gender barrier and provide dignity at work for women? Almost 20% students suggested that there should be education and training programs. They said that these programs should be embedded in the curriculum. For women who are already working in the hospitality industry and are facing these challenges everyday, training should be done. Like and 8 to 10 week course should be devised which should teach these workers about gender discrimination and how to deal with it. Some students believed that no amount of study or research will lower these barriers. They said that people will learn about these but it is not necessary that they will implement these in their workplace also. Some students even said these were physiological barriers created by women and that no such barriers existed. The recruiters of the hospitality industry sais that education is the key and that women should be taught leadership and communication skills so that when they come to workplace they know exactly how and why they are being discriminated and what action they should take.


Many corporate executives and managers believe that women are not making any significant advancemans because they do not have the education and skills. This is how ever not true. As I mentioned earlier that women are studying hospitality education more than men are studying it. Every year more women graduate. This discrimination is based just because of their gender (Fernandez, n.p. 1993). We can say that this gender gap is starting to reduce, and women are being promoted according to their skill and education, but still this gap exists (Cobb & Dunlop, 32-38, 1999).

More women are not entering this hospitality industry because the sexual discrimination and harassment is more prevalent in this industry as compared to any other industry. Women try to occupy traditional areas like technical, sales and administrative support jobs (Bowler, 13-21, 1999).

In UK Equal Pay Act was passed 30 years before and Sex Discrimination Act was passed almost 25 years ago. Even though so many years have passed yet we can still see women lagging behind men, some of these women are even better than men but they are not given equal opportunities. Helena Dennison who is the chairperson of women’s Network in the UK says that our work environment always assumes women are less intelligent than men (BBC UK, n.p. 2007).

As the number of women in the workforce is increasing, more women are enrolling into higher education. Women are now studying hospitality as their major subject. The number of women graduating from these hospitality programs have increased. This increase will definitely make them understand the gender gap that exists. They will be able to tackle these situations in a better way thus making the hospitality industry better than any other industry in terms of equality and dignity in workplace.

Some people are really working hard in order to help women gain dignity at workplace. The British Hospitality Association gives out SHINE awards which are for inspirational and successful women. These are not just awards but they show that women really contribute to a business and that they are acknowledged for that. These awards provide role models for other women to follow and pursue their career in this industry (British Hospitality Association, n.p. 2007).

Data in the study proved that women are faced with challenges in the hospitality industry. These challenges are actually sexual advancements or discrimination which makes women feel as if they have lost their respect or dignity. Due to importance of women in this industry, it should be made sure that the hospitality industry should not teach women just about the hospitality industry but also groom these women to face challenges in the industry which might either bring their career advancement to a halt or insult them so much that they will consider leaving their jobs.

Making better use of women’s skills is not just a matter of fairness(Finance and Economics, 3, 2003).


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Appendix A

Table I. Representation of women in the hospitality industry. Source: Federation of hotels and restaurant associations of India (2002); The great gender trap; FHRAI Magazine [ 2002].

Job title Total number Total women % of women
General manager 462 72 15.5%
General manager(live -in) 12 1 8.3%
Resident manager 48 13 27.1%
Front-office manager 223 119 53.4%
Reservations manager 163 111 68.1%
Controller of finance 262 99 37.8%
Housekeeping manager 513 315 61.4%
Engineer 299 24 8.0%
Sales (marketing) director 320 152 47.5%
Senior sales manager 110 76 69.1%
Sales and marketing manager 1072 845 78.8%
Catering manager 442 361 81.7%
Security manager 133 20 15.0%
Personnel (HR) manager 241 178 73.9%
Food and beverage manager 205 34 16.6%
Chef 371 22 6.0%
Sous chef 377 39 10.3%
Banquet chef 39 1 2.5%
Executive steward 101 25 24.8%
Restaurant manager 154 52 33.8%
Total 5,547 2,559 46.1%

Table II. Source: Ching-tsu Hsueh,( n.d.). Hospitality Students’ Understanding of and Attitudes Toward Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

Is this considered sexual harassment?

  • Yes
  • No

Insulting sexual comments

  • 93.0%
  • 7.0%

Complimentary sexual looks/gestures

  • 56.2%
  • 43.8%

Insulting sexual looks/gestures

  • 89.2%
  • 10.8%

Non-sexual touching

  • 25.4%
  • 74.6%

Sexual touching

  • 93.0%
  • 7.0%

Expected socialization outside with job consequences

  • 46.5%
  • 53.5%

Expected sexual activity with job consequences

  • 83.2%
  • 16.8%


Table III. The Structure of Hospitality Industry. Source: (Journal of Hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism education, 6, 2002).

              1. Businesses
Hospitality in
            1. Venues
Hospitality in
Hotels Casinos Airports Workplaces
Holiday centres Bingo clubs Rail stations Health care
Quasi hotels Night clubs Bus stations Education
Cruise ships Cinemas Ferry terminals Military
Time-share Theatres Aeroplanes Custodial
Bars Sports stadia Trains Retailers
Restaurants Theme parks Ferries
Health clubs