Factors affecting women's career advancement in the hospitality industry: Perceptions of students, educators, and industry recruiters
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In recent years, the increased number of women in the hospitality industry and their underrepresentation in top management positions has made women's status in the industry a great concern. The purpose of the study was to examine hospitality students' educators', and industry recruiters' perceptions of factors that facilitate and constrain women's career advancement and determine if there were any significant differences among them. The study went further to identify what hospitality students, educators and recruiters think hospitality education programs should do to better prepare women for leadership positions and ways to help reduce the barriers that may exist to women's career advancement. Data for this study were collected through an online survey from a convenience sample (N = 226) including hospitality students, educators and industry recruiters nationwide. The instrument used in this study was adapted with the permission of Brownell (1994) and Ng & Pine (2003). Data analysis was performed by using t-tests, confirmatory factor analysis, factor analysis, and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). Content analysis was conducted for analyzing the open-ended questions. Findings from the MANOVA and follow up analysis suggest that there were no significant gender and group (students, educators, and recruiters) interaction effects. However, three significant gender differences (Equity, Family Issues, and Advancement) and four group differences (Equity, Family Issues, Advancement, and External) were found in perceptions of factors that facilitate and constrain women's career advancement. In terms of gender, the mean scores of males were lower than females, and in terms of group differences, the mean scores of recruiters were lower than both students and educators. In responses to the open-ended questions, the majority of respondents indicated that hospitality educational programs should provide courses to improve awareness of obstacles within the industry as well as leadership skills, communication skills, problem solving skills and other skills necessary for women to be equipped for success. Some respondents thought there were no barriers to women's career advancement, and others felt little could be done in educational programs to change the situation in regard to women’s position in the hospitality industry. The findings suggested that hospitality education programs could make a contribution by revealing the existence of barriers and gender issues in the industry. This could be accomplished by developing courses on necessary skills, and providing more mentors and role models (especially female professionals) for students. Several implications for hospitality educators and industry recruiters on curriculum design and industry training were noted. Hospitality education should play an important role in preparing future leaders and create a more equitable environment for women. Future research should concentrate on broadening the impact of the various components, such as conducting qualitative in-depth interviews to evaluate mentor programs and industry recruitment procedures.