Are the Sisters of travel helping themselves?

Are the Ladies of the travel industry doing enough to help each other?  On 22 May we published called “One for the Ladies“

We sought feedback on that story a couple of weeks later with the follow up of “Your say“.

So this time the question I asked the ladies was a bit different, with  the analogy of glossy magazines – content designed for women, about women, bought by women, but mostly  destructive for women. The magazine exists because women keep buying them.

My core question?

“Are the women in travel doing enough for the women in travel?”

Travel manager Penny Hall started the ball rolling “We are becoming more aware of the “glossies” and what’s real and what’s not. There is much in our combined news in regard to women standing tall and being proud about their bodies, their looks and their professions..

“When I began working overseas, I realised travel is really clicky, and there are a lot of  people (women) who have worked for many, many years who really should consider retiring, as their embrace for change and “new”just isn’t there.”

I can say the same about a lot of men in all professions.  But change is difficult.

Penny Spencer, one of the great positive change agents, had some great feedback.  “Women are coming more together in the industry and wanting to understand how we can help each other – either in career or knowledge.

“I strongly despise these magazines. Although Spencer Travel’s lunch room is full of them and I hear laughter from my 90% female team about Kim K’s bottom and Beyonce’s weight it still upsets me that we can be so cruel to each other and take part in this banter.”

Mona Tannous is one of the great deep thinkers in travel, well, in life. It’s no doubt driven the enormous success of Oman Tourism in Australia.

 “Some woman are really out there empowering the sisters. They live and breathe this every day but on the flip side some are emotionally triggered by their colleagues or employees and this creates dissatisfaction, discontent and a whole myriad of issues. It sadly drives people to leaving a job they absolutely love because the female boss makes her life too difficult.”

My sense in what Mona is saying however is that it’s not necessarily a series of challenges unique to women.  Having said that, men and women create and manage angst by incredibly different mechanisms.  Ask Michael Grose. Its blowing my mind.

Robyn Davies  from WOW travel flips the question on its head. “How does an industry empower their females to respect their own worth? Females in the board room need to step up – once there, give the female colleague a hand up, what formidable female teams we could have in the travel industry if only we supported each other more.”

This is reflected in the responses from some individuals who felt their workplace security might be compromised if their names were attached to their views.

“Women will regularly start a family, take extended leave with a majority returning to the industry.  Removing the barriers which limit women’s progression is critical. Women in senior positions should identify opportunities for the career development of their female staff as soon as employed. A sustained strategic approach could ensure women progress to leadership roles without corporate knowledge and experience being lost.”

 This is reflected by another experienced travel employee from “the other” big brand.

 “The “Part-Timers” are usually with small children and need that flexibility but when their children are older they will go back to full-time.  Lost opportunity for professional development means they may not stay and move to a different industry.  It is not logical to spend a lot of money initial on famils and training to let it all stop.  Most women need to work full time so in reality lets support them to achieve this.”

So what have I learned about women in travel? Probably that I opened a can of worms. I am learning a little more however as I progress through my parenting course and learning more about girls and how their lives and opportunities are shaped by their dads. It’s been an interesting journey so far. Can I draw a conclusion?  No, I can’t.  I’m also probably not qualified.

However, it’s the very real Tina Almond (I can’t wait to meet you Tina) who gave me one of my favourite responses

“I don’t read the glossies! I much prefer real stories from real people. I look up to strong women who are making a difference in people’s lives and to the world in general.  The women I know in Travel who are leaders in their fields are beyond inspiring, they pour their heart and souls into their work and they are making a huge mark in the industry.

“Is it enough?  Is it ever?  But it’s a damn good start. “



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