, ,

Passion for Industry Drives Women in Tourism

A desire to reach a senior level within the sector, the opportunity to be mentored by a colleague and a highly motivated workforce with a passion for the industry are all key findings being announced today with the publication of the 2016 Women In Tourism survey results.

Launched in January 2016, Women In Tourism was created to inspire, motivate, encourage and support women within the Scottish tourism industry. With a lack of research into gender equality within tourism, the first piece of activity for the organisation was to develop a survey to identify the biggest challenges and opportunities for women within the sector. Existing research had estimated that 60% of those working within the tourism industry were female, but only 6% were in senior or board-level positions.

Encouraging participation from colleagues across Scotland, 241 responses were gathered over a six week period.

The results provide a clear direction for future activity for the Women In Tourism committee and include the following key findings:

  • 57% of women stated they work within the industry as they are passionate about tourism
  • While only 27% of women had previously had the opportunity to be mentored by a colleague within the industry; 78% would ‘welcome the opportunity to be mentored’
  • Having a family or being a carer has had an impact on the career of 36% of women. Of those who agreed, 41% stated that this was due to maintaining a work/life balance
  • Experiencing barriers to progressing a career within the sector were acknowledged by 44% of women, with 19% stating this was due to a ‘lack of opportunity’ within their organisation and 16% due to ‘men dominating at a senior level in the organisation’
  • 46% of women recognise that male colleagues progress faster in the industry

Susan Russell, Chair of Women In Tourism, 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.

The support for Women In Tourism has been fantastic and we’re delighted to be hosting our first event during Scottish Tourism Week in partnership with Tourism Society Scotland. It was during this week last year when we became aware of the gender imbalance within senior roles across the sector and we’re thrilled to be part of the Signature Programme at the Scottish Tourism Alliance conference. This will be the next step in the evolution of our project and we look forward to working with both female and male colleagues across Scotland as Women In Tourism continues to develop.”

Join the conversation Thursday 17 March: Twitter: @WITScotland  #womenintourism #STW2016


  1. For more information, please contact Susan Russell | susan@womenintourism.co.uk | 07914 846619
  2. Executive Summary of results 
  3. About Women In Tourism:

Following completion of Edinburgh Napier University’s Destination Leaders Programme, a group of Edinburgh-based women have come together to create Women In Tourism, a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to develop a framework of activity in recognition of the challenges and opportunities available to women within the sector.

The initiative builds on inspiring, motivating, encouraging and supporting women within the sector, and will help underpin the Scottish Government’s long-term strategic ambition to ensure a 50/50 gender balance across Scottish’s private, public and third sector organisation’s by 2020.  Full information is available at www.womenintourism.co.uk

4. Members of Women In Tourism:

  • Anna Morris, The Edinburgh Address
  • Diane McRae, Royal Yacht Britannia
  • Jane Ali-Knight, Edinburgh Napier University
  • Julie Grieve, Info Apps
  • Karen Jacques, Karen Jacques Sales and Marketing Solutions
  • Lesley Judge, Smart Tourism
  • Margaret McNeil, Edinburgh Tourism Action Group
  • Marion Mckean, Premier Inn
  • Shona Clelland, Assembly Rooms
  • Susan Russell, Festivals Edinburgh

5. Statistics on women within tourism:

Vitally important to the Scottish economy, this sector employs around 211,000[i] individuals across tourism-related businesses.  In 2011 it was estimated that around 60% of those working within the tourism industry were female, with women accounting for 6%[ii] of those in senior board positions.

[i] Employment in the tourism-related industries sector (as measured by the Scottish Government’s Tourism Growth Sector) in Scotland was 211,200 in 2013 – accounting for around 8.5% of employment in Scotland.


[ii] One and All Foundation (2011), www.oneandall.org.uk/content/gender-issues