Women's employment in Egyptian travel agencies and factors influencing their career development
El-Sherif Ibrahim, Nashwa Samir
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Literature on employment in tourism addresses a division between tourism workers in gender and race. Nevertheless, there has been little attention to these issues to date. This thesis contributes to the knowledge on gender issues in the Egyptian tourism workplace through a case study of women's employment in travel agencies and the factors influencing their career development depending on a sequential dominant-less dominant mixed method approach. The thesis explores the representation and departmental distribution of women in travel agencies and the organisational policies set in place to support their career development through a survey study. It further explores the different factors influencing women's career development through a series of in-depth semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Quantitatively, women formed 26% of the workforce in the Egyptian travel agencies. Women occupied 35% of the managerial positions in the public agencies and 25% of these positions in the private ones. Women dominate both as employees or middle managers in the departments that practice office work and are less present in the operational and ground handling departments. Public travel agencies and 55% of private agencies have written policies for selection and recruitment. Public agencies and 75% of private agencies are committed to "equal pay for equal jobs". None of the public or private agencies have written policies for handling sex discrimination and sexual harassment. Both public and private agencies apply family-friendly arrangements to support women's careers. Such arrangements are more likely effective in the public than in the private agencies, however, both public and private agencies do not provide in-site or off-site childcare facilities. The major body of the work is a qualitative study of the factors influencing women's career development in the Egyptian travel agencies. Semi-structured interviews with women and men employers, managers, employees, consultants and tourism academics are supplemented with single sex and mixed focus group interviews with tourism undergraduates. These provide a rich picture of the factors promoting and constraining women's career development. The thesis concludes that women's career development in the Egyptian travel agencies is influenced by three groups of closely interrelated, overlapping and interacting factors: the personal; organisational; societal, which play an important role in shaping the extent and nature of women's involvement in employment. Force field analysis identified nine key forces working for and twelve key forces working against women's career development in the Egyptian travel business. The thesis makes a contribution to understanding women's lives and experiences in an Egyptian context and challenges the migration of Western approaches to women's issues to other contexts based on different value sets.
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