Previous EiT volunteer Marta Mills recently published an excellent analysis of #manels (all male panels or almost all male panels) at the ITB in Berlin, where many of the speakers were recycled from 2017. Shortly after it was brought to our attention that WTM in Latin America’s Opening Ceremony was again almost completely male. Tourism is not the only area dominated by male speakers and after a quick look at the website http://allmalepanels.tumblr.com/, I would forgive you for thinking that only men exist in the World. Yet, as we all know our tourism classrooms
in universities around the globe tend to be dominated by women students, so logically there should be more women speakers than men. In fact our directors Tricia Barnett and Strome Cole were invited to speak at ITB, but could not attend due to budgeting requirements. The lack of female representation among invited industry speakers is not explained by a lack of female expertise, but how society imagines experts to have male bodies. As an industry, tourism does not buck the trend of exploiting existing ‘gender inequalities that provide a large global supply of highly flexibilised and low-paid female workers’.
The issue of #manels is so significant that the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia has created a Panel Pledge Toolkit. In the academic field of tourism, a group of scholars found that approximately 24% of invited speakers are women. This is unsurprising as tourism is more gendered than STEM and there is a definite gender imbalance, especially at a professorial level. This gender imbalance is at least in part due to a lack of citations, linking back to the opportunities that academia provides to celebrate and publicise academics. Some tourism conferences still, for example, only invite men as keynote speakers, and the portraits we produce in published outlets celebrating authors tend to be of men. The same professors are often reviewers and editors of academic journals as well as those sitting on recruitment panels and potentially deciders of what constitutes valid research. This can mean that gender-aware or feminist research within tourism is ignored, which is completely incomprehensible when two-thirds of the tourism workforce on a global scale is female. It also concretely signifies that the tourism academy is a place of gender inequality.
Remember to join us in celebrating “20 Academic Books by Women that Changed tourism” between the 23rd and the 28th of April 2018. Historically women experts and prominent figures have been ignored, just look at Parliament Square in London or the Pantheon in Paris. Visibilising women experts is important if we are to live in a gender just world.