Gender Inequality in Hospitality Industry



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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction. 3

1.1.     Background. 3

1.2.     Problem Statement 4

1.3.     Research Questions and Objectives. 4

1.4.     Research Hypothesis. 5

  1. Literature Review.. 5
  2. Methodology. 8

3.1.     Philosophy and Approach. 8

3.2.     Quantitative Research. 9

3.3.     Research Design. 9

3.4.     Data Collection and Analysis. 9

3.5.     Ethical Considerations. 10

  1. Conclusion and Recommendations. 10

4.1.     Conclusion. 10

4.2.     Recommendations. 11

  1. Reference List 12




Gender Inequality in Hospitality Industry, Issues, and Challenges Facing Female Leaders in France’s Hotels

1.      Introduction


The issue of gender inequality across industries has persisted into the 21st century. However, it should be acknowledged that positive progress has been made, and women are now a significant part of the global workforce. Currently, the attention has been turned to women in leadership positions and the issues and challenges they face. According to Torrens University Australia (2019), a lot of progress has been made in terms of gender equality in the hospitality industry, but the main challenge is breaking the ceiling. In other words, women are still facing difficulties ascending to leadership positions. Those who have managed to become leaders face multiple challenges, including stereotype threats, as explained by Hoyt and Murphy (2016, p. 387). Therefore, it can be justified to claim that the issues and challenged facing women in leadership are evidence of the fact that gender inequality exists in leadership.

The hospitality industry is among those that appreciate the services of women. However, the global outlook of the sector indicates that male domination persists, even though the dynamics in corporate leadership are changing. In other words, women are increasingly taking up leadership positions. The focus on specific countries in the literature regarding female leadership is scant, especially for France and its hospitality industry. However, some people believe that France is one of the countries that have made more significant progress in gender equality. Such scholars as Khan (2019, p. 22) even go further to state that France has no gender inequality, even though some incidences indicate that the country has not completely achieved gender equality. Therefore, it would become interesting to examine the French hospitality industry and the issues facing women in leadership positions.

1.2.Problem Statement

The current literature regarding the challenges and issues facing women in leadership positions in the hospitality industry in France is inadequate. Globally, the problem of women breaking the glass ceiling and ascending to leadership positions is a common phenomenon. Tourism and hospitality are among the most significant industries globally, making it a perfect choice of context when examining gender inequality and related concepts. Most importantly, France is among the few countries in the world with a legal framework and infrastructure dedicated to pursuing gender balance. However, such writers as label the country’s situation as a gender balance paradox. The rationale is that France has been inspiring, fascinating, and frustrating in its efforts. The problem is largely unknown as it applies to the hospitality industry. Therefore, there exists a major research gap that needs to be bridged by undertaking an empirical study that clarifies the current situation of gender balance in corporate leadership in France’s hospitality sector. Even though there is evidence of women leading major companies, the question of the issues and challenges they face remain unanswered.

1.3. Research Questions and Objectives

The main research objective is to explore the major issues and challenges facing women leaders in French hotels. The specific objectives will include determining the percentage of women in leadership across the country’s hotels. Additionally, the problem of gender inequality in corporate leadership in France’s hospitality industry is explored. Lastly, a primary examination of such issues as stereotyping, discrimination, prejudice, and family demands is conducted to determine how they affect the women in leadership. The research questions for this research are outlined below:

  • What is the current percentage of women leaders in the hotel industry in France?
  • How is gender inequality reflected in corporate leadership in France’s hospitality industry?
  • How do such issues as stereotyping, discrimination, prejudice, and family demands affect women leaders in the hospitality industry?

1.4. Research Hypothesis

H1: The corporate leadership in France’s hospitality industry is dominated by men.

H2: There still exists gender inequality in corporate leadership in France’s hotel industry.

H3: Women leaders in France’s hospitality industry face such challenges as stereotyping, discrimination, prejudice, and family demands.

2.      Literature Review

The current literature on women and leadership has extensively explored the issues facing women across the world. However, it is important to highlight that mostly generalizations have been made, especially regarding the fact that women face multiple barriers in their pursuit of corporate leadership positions. The available literature should be adequate to lay the foundation for this research because it helps highlight the research gaps and areas that require further empirical inquiry.

Gender barriers to women’s pursuit of top management is a common topic in literature. A study conducted by Rincón, González, and Barrero (2017, p. 322) explores the evolution of women in the top leadership position and finds that the barriers that females face are noticeable. Examples highlighted include stereotyping of women, which makes it hard for them to become accomplished leaders. Additionally, Rincón, González, and Barrero (2017, p. 324) find that the global fraction of women leaders do not represent a third of the leaders across companies in Europe. Even though these researchers do not exclusively focus on the hospitality industry, their study successfully paints a picture of gender representation in management positions and highlights the key issues women face.

Rising to managerial positions is a result of building successful careers over a period of time. An overview of career development for females in the hospitality industry has been presented by Kumara (2018, p. 330), who defines career progression as a lifelong process where one selects and makes decisions associated with their occupations. Kumara (2018, p. 331) also finds that the process for women is marred by such barriers and challenges as irregular working hours, hiring practices, gender stereotypes, glass ceiling, dual roles, visibility factors, and cultural barriers. Gender segregation and lack of female role models have also emerged as key inhibitors to career development. The main point is that the global hotel industry has been affected by male dominance where recruitment practices for managerial positions favor make workers. Such is a situation that has been labeled by Kumara (2018, p. 331) as the “old boy’s network’, which simply means males are hiring fellow men in certain positions. For women, these privileges do not exist, which makes it difficult for them to break the glass ceiling.

The tourism and hospitality are also one of the industries in the world. Some people see this as an opportunity to increase the number of female workers. According to Kestwal (2017, p. 149), one of the key hindrances to career progression for women is the long working hours required. However, it is important to acknowledge that the decision not to pursue a career is personal and depends on the culture and lifestyle of the women involved. The most crucial aspect is that the hospitality industry people holding higher positions in the organizational hierarchy have more responsibilities. Kestwal (2017, p. 149) also explains that the work rates and performances demanded as one climbs the corporate ladder discourages women because most cannot match their male counterparts. Therefore, research about the issues and challenges facing women in leadership should be informed by these findings, which illustrate that women face tougher tests even before they can become top managers.

Many studies of women and leadership in the hotel industry focus on the glass ceiling and the challenges faced for one to become an accomplished executive. A case study of Madrid has been presented by González-Serrano et al. (2018, p. 91), who find that even though there is a strong presence of females in the sector, the access to management positions remains limited. Additionally, the common issues for the Madrid case study include the glass ceiling, verticle segregation, and discrimination. A case study for Cairo by Yasin et al. (2019) reveals that such social challenges as traditional customs, cultures, and beliefs affect the presence of women in the hospitality industry, especially their ascent to leadership. Therefore, it can be argued that the current literature has conclusively established what makes it difficult for women to become leaders.

With the literature provided above, it is apparent that the challenges and issues are preventing more women from joining leadership positions. However, very little has been done to establish what issues and challenges face those who have managed to overcome all obstacles to joint top corporate leadership. Such sentiment has been expressed by Hoyt and Murphy (2016, p. 391), who acknowledge that a lot has been done on barriers to women leadership and that it is time to explore what happens to female leaders. The researchers establish that there are high expectations for women leaders, which make their jobs difficult. A two-pronged problem suggested by Hoyt and Murphy (2016, p. 391) is that, on the one hand, the highly communal women receive criticism for having deficiencies in leadership. On the other hand, those who are agentic are regarded as not being female enough.

Most of the literature regarding the barriers to leadership highlights such issues as stereotypes and other social challenges. Hoyt and Murphy (2016, p. 391) explain that these issues are also experienced once women have attained leadership positions. Social rejection is another element that prevents women from performing effectively in their management roles. Such an aspect is the result of social norms, where women in leadership are perceived to have broken the norms (Rincón, González, and Barrero, 2017, p. 322). Therefore, most of the challenges preventing women from pursuing corporate leadership also hinder them from effectively performing once they have attained executive positions.

The major research gap manifested in the literature review is that many studies examine barriers to leadership but fail to explore what happens once women have become managers. Secondly, a few recent case studies focus on specific countries, which means that cross-country comparisons may not be possible. The current literature only serves to justify the fact that there is a lot to be done to update knowledge and understanding regarding gender issues in business and leadership. Most importantly, there is no case for France or many studies that explore the country. In other words, a study examining the issues facing women leaders in hotels in France will be one of the first attempts on the topic. There may be a few scholars and studies showing that France is progressive on matters of gender balance. However, some would still insist that the representation of women in leadership does not reflect a commendable achievement. Therefore, there is an urgent need to explore the situation of France, especially the hospitality industry, which is known globally to be a leading employer of women.

3.      Methodology

3.1.Philosophy and Approach

All researchers are guided by their own approaches to research and tend to follow a particular philosophy. In scientific research, the term philosophy can be used to describe the development of knowledge, research assumptions, and nature (Zukauskas, Vveinhardt, and Andriukaitienė, 2018, p. 123). The reasoning behind the research and the selection of methods used are also part of the philosophy. For this study, the research philosophy selected is positivism, which holds that the social world can be objectively understood. Scholars using this philosophy believe that reality is objective, and they analyze while dissociating themselves and their personal values from the phenomenon being studied. In terms of the research approach, this study will be descriptive because it seeks to describe the challenges and issues facing women leaders in the French hospitality industry. The phenomenon may not be new, but the absence of adequate data and previous studies justify this research approach.

3.2.Quantitative Research

Quantitative research methods are a perfect way to conduct primary research, especially where the researchers are making the first attempt on a subject. A quantitative study can be described as a research undertaking that focuses on quantifying and analyzing numerical data to obtain results (Apuke, 2017, p. 41). Therefore, the basic characteristics of quantitative research are that the data collected is quantifiable and that the analysis used statistical methods and tools. The primary data collected for this research will be quantified and analyzed statistically. Such descriptive elements as percentages and means will answer the first research question. The other two questions will require more complex analysis, including correlation analysis.

3.3. Research Design

The design adopted for this research is the case study, a design that has been used across multiple disciplines, including social sciences and business. However, it is important to acknowledge that most case studies use qualitative approaches. The features of this research make it possible to apply a case study design. For example, the focus on a single country and a single industry means that an in-depth exploration of the problem can be accomplished in line with the requirements of a case study. Therefore, the findings obtained from this research will be used to make generalizations not only across other countries but also other industries.

3.4.Data Collection and Analysis

Primary data will be collected through the use of online surveys. The current COVID-19 pandemic restricts movements and physical contact, which means the most favorable option left is to engage respondents is through the use of other means. The first research question can use secondary data, potentially from market research or other industry-specific data. However, the second and third research will require the development of questionnaires to be administered through the use of emails and messaging applications. A sample of 50 women leaders in the hotel industry is selected using the convenience sampling technique. In terms of data analysis, the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) will be used to analyze the numerical data. A correlation analysis establishes the link between the highlighted challenges and the number of women in leadership, and the job satisfaction levels of female managers.

3.5. Ethical Considerations

The researcher observes all ethical guidelines associated with a primary study. Most importantly, the current pandemic requires the researcher to take extra precautions regarding the interactions with respondents. As an online survey, there will be no harm physical harm caused to participants, including exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Other forms of harm will be avoided by such measures as upholding anonymity and confidentiality. Privacy will also be observed, and all participation will be made voluntary and backed by informed consent.

4.      Conclusion and Recommendations


The current literature suggests that the focus among scholars has been on the barriers faced by women pursuing leadership positions. The situation has been the same across the world and industries. Tourism and hospitality are among those with the highest numbers of female employees. The main purpose of the study is to find out the gender dynamics in leadership in France’s hospitality industry. A key research gap has been identified in that the case study of France and its hospitality sector have not been subjected to a scholarly examination.

Therefore, this research will be a descriptive and quantitative study, which means that numerical data will be collected and analyzed. Considering the current situation with the pandemic, an online survey has been selected as the safest data collection method. Most importantly, the data will be analyzed using SPSS, which helps develop both descriptive statistics and correlation analysis. Lastly, the researcher upholds all ethical standards in the conduct of the research, especially regarding the engagement of the respondents.

4.2. Recommendations

The nature of this research and the amount of data available presents some difficulties for the researcher. Therefore, several recommendations can be made regarding the approaches used. First, convenience sampling is the best technique because the targeted respondents are perceived to be facing certain challenges already. Only those who are comfortable with the research can participate, which means that informed consent will be sought before the questionnaires are administered. The researcher should explore multiple hotels across the country and find out those with female managers before initiating contact with them. Such information can be easily available on the internet, especially on social networking sites, including Facebook and LinkedIn. With these sites, the employee profiles and positions within companies can be seen, including their contact information. Social media can also be a perfect tool to administer the questionnaires once the sample has been selected.

The second recommendation involves the framing of the questions to drive both useful feedback and allow the quantification of the data. The hypotheses developed will be a useful tool in this regard because they make it possible to measure the response rates supporting each one of them. Therefore, it can also be recommended that a larger sample be used to make generalizations easier. Since no interviews are used, which could be time-consuming, the researchers can afford to recruit as many respondents as possible. In this case, an estimated 250 would be a large enough sample. However, this recommendation depends on the number of female personnel in top management positions across the country and how many of them will be willing to participate. The answer to the first research question can determine the sample size used for this research.



Reference List

Apuke, O. (2017) ‘Quantitative research methods: a synopsis approach’, Kuwait Chapter of Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review, 6(11), pp. 40-47. doi:10.12816/0040336

González-Serrano, L. (2018) ‘Women and the glass ceiling in the community of Madrid hotel industry’, International Journal of Human Resources Development and Managemen, 18(1/2), pp. 91-111. doi:10.1504/IJHRDM.2018.10013649

Hoyt, C. and Murphy, S. (2016) ‘Managing to clear the air: stereotype threat, women, and leadership’, The Leadership Quarterly, 27(3), pp. 387-399. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2015.11.002

Kestwal, A. (2017) ‘The challenges and issues of women in hospitality industry’, 8(3), pp. 147-157.

Khan, Y. (2019) ‘Cross cultural leadership and the hospitality industry: a leadership style towards success in organizational goals in France’, Hospitality & Tourism Management International Journal, 1(4), pp. 20-25. doi:10.15406/ahoaj.2019.03.00100

Kumara, R. (2018) ‘Career development of women in the hotel industry: an overview’, Journal of Applied and Natural Science, 10(1), pp. 330-338. doi:10.31018/jans.v10i1.1626

Rincón, V., González, M. and Barrero, K. (2017) ‘Women and leadership: gender barriers to senior management positions’, Intangible Capital, 13(2), pp. 319-386. doi:10.3926/ic.889

Torrens University Australia, 2019. 4 women leaders in hospitality and their views on gender equality in the industry.

Available at: (Accessed: 27 March 2021).

Yasin, E. (2019) ‘What challenges affect women working in the hotel industry? evidence from five star hotels in Cairo’, International Journal of Heritage, Tourism and Hospitality, 13(1), pp. 35-47. doi:10.21608/ijhth.2019.3510

Zukauskas, P., Vveinhardt, J. and Andriukaitienė (2018) ‘Philosophy and paradigm of scientific research’, in J. Vveinhardt, (Ed.). Management Culture and Corporate Social Responsibility. London: IntechOpen, pp. 121-139.


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