Scottish tourism is a man’s world, women say

The Scottish tourism industry has been slammed for its lack of opportunities for women. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
The Scottish tourism industry has been slammed for its lack of opportunities for women. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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ALMOST half of women working in Scottish tourism say they have experienced barriers to career progression, according to new research.

More than a third say their career has been affected by having a family or being a carer.

Some 46 per cent of female tourism workers in Scotland believe men are able to progress faster in the industry.

And nearly a quarter claim they are not paid the same as male colleagues working at the same level.

The research was commissioned by the new Women in Tourism group, which was set up last year by a number of industry professionals in Edinburgh.

The Royal Yacht Britannia, the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Napier University and Festivals Edinburgh are all represented in the group, which wants to gauge the extent of gender equality across the industry. Around 60 per cent of its workforce are female.

Participants in its survey say the domination of men at a senior level within their organisation and a lack of opportunity have been among the biggest barriers to career progression.

Just 15 per cent of those who responded said they owned their own business or were chief executives of their organisation. However, 75 per cent of those polled said they wanted to progress to a “senior level” within the industry.

Susan Russell, chair of Women in Tourism, which is staging a special Scottish Tourism Week event in Edinburgh today, said: “The results from the survey provide sector-wide evidence for the first time that we have an ambitious female workforce working across all parts of the tourism industry.

“While barriers or challenges have been identified, respondents were clear that they have the right skills and attributes to reach roles of leadership, but would welcome support through networks and mentoring to enable them to achieve their full potential.

“We’re delighted to be hosting our first event during Scottish Tourism Week. It was during this week last year when we became aware of the gender imbalance within senior roles across the sector.

“We look forward to working with both female and male colleagues across Scotland as Women In Tourism continues to develop.”

Kat Brogan, managing director of Edinburgh-based Mercat Tours, said: “It’s really important to us as a family business to offer opportunities to all members of our team regardless of age or background.

“We’ve grown over the last 30 years to become market leaders by recruiting on attitude, seeing and encouraging potential. We have never, and won’t ever, appoint staff based on anything other than their skills, passion and commitment to our company’s philosophy to support and develop our team.”