New Report Exposes Significant Gender Gap in Tourism Academic Leadership

Results of a new research report The Gender Gap in the Tourism Academy: Statistics and Indicators of Gender Equality reveal that women are under-represented in the majority of leadership and gatekeeping positions examined and that academic organisations continue to show highly gendered patterns.

The research project, produced by an international group of twelve tourism academics known as ”While Waiting for the Dawn”, shows that while women account for nearly half of tourism academics, only 13% of fellows of the prestigious ”International Academy for the Study of Tourism” are women. From over 6000 editorial positions analysed in 189 journals, there are only 25% of women holding top-editorial positions and the gender gap intensifies in the top 20 journals in the field (where women representation is only 21%). A similar under-representation appears among invited speakers at conferences. Among all the invited speakers of the 33 international conferences analysed only 24% are women. Conferences with a complete absence of women as invited/keynote speakers are quite common (almost one third had an all-male line up of invited speakers).

This is the first report that maps the gender gap in tourism studies. The analysis confirms similar results of other national and international studies that show men continue to be over-represented among the gatekeepers who set the academic and research agendas.

“It is a shocking wake-up call, especially for early career researchers. It pushes us to think about what it is to be an academic and how we can use our agency to break the gendered glass ceiling” says Elaine Yang, PhD Candidate at Griffith Business School and the administrator of the online community ”Women Academics in Tourism”.

Many studies of gender in research rely on national or regional labour statistics (e.g. EU), but a distinguishing feature of this report is that the data analysed takes into consideration the global nature of academic networks. It reveals that the gender glass ceiling exists not only in relation to professorships, but it extends to other forms of academic titles and leadership positions. Academic leadership is contextual to specific research communities and besides mapping career progression, it is crucial to establish other indicators to monitor gendered patterns in gate-keeping and high visibility positions in global networks.

Ana María Munar, Associate Professor at Copenhagen Business School, who coordinated this research project said ”We hope this report will help to raise awareness and contribute to creating a more just academy, where women have equal opportunities to shape the present and the future of tourism scholarship”.

 A vodcast of this report and the full report can be accessed here:

For questions and further information about this report, please contact:

 While Waiting for the Dawn, UK:

Avital Biran,

Donna Chambers,