Interview with Dr. Angela Kalisch: Gender Equality in Tourism
Dr. Angela Kalisch has seen many professional sides of the tourism industry, from working in the tour operator sector in sustainable tourism, academic to now being a Chair for the charity Equality in Tourism International. She has researched, taught and worked within the industry to echo what movements she believes are important in the industry, particularly gender equality in tourism. One of the main social skills that the Next Tourism Generation (NTG) wants to bring to the attention of its audience, is gender equality in tourism. This interview will highlight several interesting insights regarding this matter by Dr. Angela Kalisch.
Heini met Angela to gain a better understanding of how she represents equality in the tourism industry through her organisation and how society can begin to better the representation of and opportunities for women in the tourism industry. Key questions were asked to gain a full understanding of how Angela sees the ways in which we can help implement skills training for women in the industry, by focusing on her work with Equality in Tourism International.
Why is gender equality so central to sustainable tourism development internationally?
Angela introduced many key and important points and explained that:
“Gender equality is the fifth goal of the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable tourism embraces social as well as environmental and economic equality. Women have huge skills and knowledge to contribute. However, they are at the forefront of the negative impacts of tourism and often precluded from benefiting from the positive impacts.”
Do you believe it is important to concentrate on how women are devalued in the industry and why there is a necessity to fight for change?
“They are over-represented in low-paid and low-skilled jobs in tourism and hospitality, particularly in family-owned businesses, they carry the main burden of household and agricultural chores, they suffer from water shortages caused by tourism resorts, and they suffer when their land is encroached upon by tourism infrastructure development, they are victims of sexual harassment, exploitation and human trafficking in tourism, they are rarely included in decision-making processes. It’s easy to say that very often these women are bound to their circumstances which, preclude them from working in tourism or having a career.”
Do you know any good practices in relation to gender equality skills and what the charity is doing to identify these?
“To ensure that skills are enhanced and implemented everywhere in the industry, it is important to highlight what good practices in gender equality exist in the Tourism Industry. Equality in Tourism is working with industry and trade unions, research and training. This is illustrated on the website which shows what activities they already promote, including their objectives and visions for the future of women in this industry, which is very much relevant here in Wales too. There are, but very few.”
What skill sets are needed to enable better gender in tourism and hospitality?
“We should probably separate knowledge, skills and attributes. That might be more helpful. For example, employers need knowledge and experience of the tourism and hospitality industry. Employees and employers need to be courageous and committed to change for equality, with a strong character. Employees need to be motivated.I believe it is not just skills that are needed in the industry but strong personal attributes too. A good working relationship and a motivated attitude from both employee and employer is key.”
Angela draws upon a few examples, insisting that staff attitudes towards leadership, flexibility, communication and understanding bias, harassment and discrimination is vital. Likewise, important attitudes such as emotional intelligence, strategic and policy development for sustainable development, gender equality and cultural diversity and understanding of intersectionality is vital and must be represented by employers.”
Angela has a wealth of knowledge and emphasizes on the importance of Equality in Tourism International:
“Equality in Tourism International is a charity dedicated to ensuring that women have an equal voice in tourism and hospitality and an equal share in its benefits. We act as a focal point for the conversation about how the tourism and hospitality industry can engage in promoting gender equality. We also offer training programmes and capacity building initiatives, strategic management and policy development.”