The Gender Gap in the Tourism Academy – It’s time…

Deep concerns have been raised about gender equity in the academic workplace, concerns that have also been mirrored in the tourism academy. This is a stubborn and persistent issue, and cannot be explained away by women's lack of confidence or desire to succeed. With at least half of tourism undergraduate students being women, half our PhD completions being female, and a good proportion of tourism industry workers being female, why is it that most of the visible leaders in the tourism academy are men? Do current notions of a 'successful academic' adequately reflect women's values and needs? Evidence emerging from a TEFI advocacy research project suggests that there are deep structural inequities, and that the tourism academy needs stand tall and do better when it comes to gender equity.

TEFI recognises that gender equity and balance is one set of issues within a broader agenda for a just society. We recognise the importance of addressing a wider range of inequalities based on sex, race, disability status, age, sexual orientation, marital status, nationality and social class. However, in response to increasing concerns over the lack of gender equity and balance in tourism academia, and research that demonstrates gender balance and equity to be a persistent problem in academic work environments across the disciplinary landscape, TEFI has chosen to address gender equity and balance in the first instance.

The Gender Gap in the Tourism Academy: Statistics and Indicators of Gender Equality

This study was undertaken by a group of women tourism academics calling themselves “While Waiting for the Dawn”. The study explores the role that gender plays in the lives of women scholars and students in the tourism academy. This report maps gender equality in the tourism academy through a series of key indicators that reflect visible leadership positions in the field. These indicators include editorial positions in journals, positions on conference committees, and keynote speakers, among others. Results clearly show a gender gap within the tourism academy and an imbalance in the influence of women and men in key leadership roles, suggesting that tourism scholarship mirrors the patriarchal structures that characterise the global academy more generally.

We hope this report will help to raise awareness and contribute to creating a more just academy, where women have equal opportunities to shape the present and the future of tourism scholarship.

This report available here is the first in what we envisage to be a long-term commitment to inject reliable data and information into the gender debate. For more information, please contact TEFI Executive member, Associate Professor Ana María Munar (

Find "The Gender Gap in the Tourism Academy: Statistics and Indicators of Gender Inequality" report HERE.

Gender Equity in Tourism Conferences

 As an outcome of the gender workshop at TEFI8 (University of Guelph, Canada), guidelines for gender equity in tourism conferences were developed in consultation with the TEFI Advisory Board, gender workshop participants and the TEFI Executive. 

These "Recommendations for Promoting Gender Equity and Balance in Tourism Conferences" are based on thorough research and discussion in the TEFI community. We regard them to be the standard to aspire to, and welcome others openly committing to and adopting these guidelines.

Find the "Gender Equity in Tourism Conferences" guidelines here.

Gender Equity in Tourism Publications

TEFI Gender Guidelines Publications Nov2014


TEFI has also prepared "Recommendations for Promoting Gender Equity in Tourism Publications" to help guide appointments in editorial boards and other collaborative scholarly publishing activities.

We encourage anyone who is setting up a journal, scoping a new collaborative publication, or undertaking other publication activities, to openly commit to these guidelines.

Find the "Gender Equity in Tourism Publications" guidelines here.

Contribute to the Gender Equity Discussions


TEFI8 Gender workshop colourThere is a clear gender gap in the tourism academy when it comes to visible leadership positions. This situation reflects the broader inequality registered in the tourism industry. A report "Sun, Sand and Ceilings: Women in the Boardroom in the Tourism Industry" by Equality in Tourism: Creating Change for Women found that despite the fact that women make up the majority of the global tourism workforce, only 15.8% of board members of tourism businesses were women. Given that there are increasing proportions of women choosing to study tourism, then surely there should be equitable representation of women in leadership positions both in the academy and in the industry.

Gender imbalances are not self-correcting and proactive policies and initiatives need to be implemented to tackle the gender gap and to avoid the perpetuation of unequal opportunities. This is why we need to bring the issue into the open and to identify and implement actions appropriate to local contexts. TEFI has organised, or helped to organise, gender workshops at various conferences in which these matters are discussed, including:

  • TEFI8 University of Guelph, Canada 2014
  • TTRA APAC, Melbourne 2014
  • CTS Conference, Opatija Croatia 2015
  • TEFI9 Thompson Rivers University, Canada 2016

We welcome your participation in these and future events, but also make a call to action for you to organise your own event, workshop or panel session. Please contact any member of the "While Waiting for the Dawn" group if you would like advice or assistance.

Please bookmark this page. Forward the link when you think others might benefit from using the above guidelines.