Setting a new precedent in an evolving industry
When I was about nine years old, my class was assigned with the task of giving a presentation on someone that inspired us. I knew immediately that I wanted to do my presentation on Amelia Earhart. Yes, there are many incredible women that have accomplished extraordinary feats but hearing that Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean meant something special to me. As inspiring as she was, and still is to me, her journey to achieve her dream did not come easy. Although she defied many people’s opinions of her, she still had to face the unapproving thoughts and comments made about her wanting to be a pilot, “a typical man’s job”. I have come to realize that this was one of the first moments that I recognised that women and men are not always treated as equals. As I grew older this became a thing that I started to experience more and more frequently. It became specifically prevalent when I entered the working world.
In hospitality, women represent about 70% of the working force. This sounds amazing at first. It makes you think that gender diversity and equality within the industry is commendable, inspiring and that the gender gap is closing. However, the truth is a lot more despondent than it sounds. Very few women are holding high ranking positions even though they make up the greater portion of the industry. How is that possible? Why is this still happening? Most importantly, how can we correct this?
Tradition is the continuity of manner, method or style that was formed by a past generation. Tradition is a man going to work and a woman staying home. A tradition is a man in a high power position and a woman with the same qualifications and experience, at a much lower level. On the rare occasion, a tradition is a man and a woman having the same title, but a man is still earning a larger percentage than a woman earns. Tradition forms the foundation of hospitality and it needs to be knocked down with a sledgehammer. We cannot carry on with the same principles that were relevant 100 years ago or even 10 years ago.
Gender bias is the tendency to favour one gender over the other. However, this may not always be blatant, it can come from an unconscious state of mind. This is no one’s fault, our brains are wired to categorize all the situations we encounter to make sense of the world around us. These biases, however, cause us to form prejudices against others and treat them differently because of it. An example of unconscious gender bias in the workplace is that women are less likely to be given credit for a job-well-done, yet they are held to higher standards of performance. Let’s say that a woman is being interviewed for a managerial role, and you generally associate this position with male qualities, you are unknowingly giving this woman an unfair opportunity because of the preconceived idea that you already have in mind.
So why is this still a problem today and how can we fix it? It is still a problem because we are allowing it to be. We need to be more forward and take stronger actions to resolve them. The answer may be inside us, as women. We can be upset and blame our male counterparts but at the end of the day, that is not going to help. It is up to us to bring awareness to issues like the ones previously mentioned, to not keep quiet. We need to take a sledgehammer to the walls of tradition, bias and stereotypes that are holding us back from being treated, appreciated and compensated equally. Amelia Earhart said, “I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”