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Gender research in hospitality and tourism management: time to change the guard

Shelagh K. Mooney (School of Hospitality and Tourism, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 21 April 2020

Issue publication date: 23 May 2020




The purpose of this paper is to explain the problem with how gender is positioned in hospitality and tourism management studies. It recommends critical theories to investigate how gender is researched in the sector’s academic and institutional systems.


The conceptual study explains contemporary gender theories and gives examples of relevant hospitality and tourism management studies. A four point critical agenda for researching gender is proposed and justified.


The study highlights how the focus on “female leadership” as different from the male norm and the use of traditional theoretical framings reinforce stereotypes about the primacy of women’s domestic commitments to their detriment.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of this academy focussed study is that it has not recommended specific initiatives to combat specific issues of gender discrimination in hospitality and tourism employment. A further limitation is that the primary focus was on critical management theory to explain heteronormative based gender discrimination. It did not discuss queer theory.

Practical implications

In addition, a new research agenda, steps are proposed to change the masculine culture. Hospitality and tourism universities and research institutions should review men’s/women’s/gender diverse representation at leadership levels. Critical gender research approaches may also be fostered by sectorial conference streams and journal special issues and university graduate research students should be taught to design such studies.

Social implications

The use of contemporary approaches in gender studies will enable researchers to propose more targeted equality and diversity management actions for industry. They will also assist educators to better design curricula that protect and promote the interests of women studying a hospitality, tourism or events degree and those who identify as gender diverse.


The paper challenges the masculine status quo in hospitality and tourism management gender studies, arguing that adherence to traditional orthodoxies has stifled the development of critical paradigms and methodologies. Its key contribution is to reveal the advantages that critical gender theorising can bring to further the aim of gender equality by showing practical applications.



Mooney, S.K. (2020), "Gender research in hospitality and tourism management: time to change the guard", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 1861-1879.



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