From celebrity chefs to hard-working restaurateurs, accountants, front office staff, head chefs, cooks, bar managers, waitstaff, and catering business owners – you’ll find dedicated and passionate people wherever you look in Australia’s hospitality industry. The sector is relatively balanced compared to other industries in terms of men and women. However, research shows that gender equality hasn’t been achieved just yet.

We examine the current situation, the barriers that still exist and the strides that are being made towards establishing the Australian hospitality industry as a truly equal place for men and women.

The current state of play

Australia’s workforce as a whole is not yet a truly equal place for men and women. The gender pay gap is real; Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) data reveals men take home on average $26,527 a year more than women do.

The WGEA has found the gender pay gap in the accommodation and food services industry in particular to be 11.9 per cent. While this is definitely better than the average across all industries (22.4 per cent), it’s clear there is still a way to go.

For an industry that is relatively evenly split in terms of workforce participation (women make up 52.4 per cent of jobs in the sector), there are still hurdles in place when it comes to the occupation of senior positions. Take a look at the stats from the WGEA:

  • 9.7 per of CEOs or heads of business are female.
  • 31.8 per cent of key management personnel are female.
  • 33.2 per cent of other executives/senior managers are female.
  • 40.1 per cent of senior managers are female.

Despite the perception of hospitality being a female-dominated industry, the data clearly indicates that when it comes to wages and senior positions, the opposite is the case.

There are lot more men than women occupying senior positions in Australia's hospitality industry. The ratio of women to men in Australia’s hospitality industry is relatively equal, however there are far more men than women occupying senior roles.

What challenges still remain?

Women working in hospitality recognise that these challenges exist. InterContinental Hotels Group’s COO Australasia and Japan, Karin Sheppard, spoke to Hotel Management about the under-representation of women in more senior positions. “This is an industry-wide challenge; to create a more diverse workplace and encourage more females into general manager roles,” she told the magazine.

Lauren Eldridge, pastry chef at Pei Modern and previous winner of the Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year Award, believes women are still under-represented in hospitality across the board: “On a micro level, the ratio of male to female employees is still heavily skewed towards men, from apprentices to head chefs,” she told Hospitality Magazine.

We are in a position to continue to shine a spotlight equally on the talented females in the industry.

Is gender equality in the Australian hospitable industry achievable?

In light of these obstacles, is there room for optimism that gender equality may one day be a reality in Australia’s hospitality sector? With the right support, absolutely.

Chef Nicky Riemer, co-owner of Melbourne’s Union Dining, acknowledges the importance of women having a strong female mentor to help them succeed in the industry. She told the ABC about her time working under cook and restaurateur Stephanie Alexander: “It was probably the four best years of my life in a kitchen,” Riemer said. “She continued to show me what it meant to be a leader in the kitchen.”

Initiatives like the Woman in Hospitality Organisation have also been formed to support women in the sector, helping to push the issues forward and ensure more talented women are entering senior hospitality positions.

“We are in a position to continue to shine a spotlight equally on the talented females in the industry alongside the males at the outset and on the world stage,” the organisation’s founder Julia Campbell told Hospitality Magazine.

What Kenvale College is doing for gender equality in hospitality

Kenvale College is committed to supporting gender equality, both in our workplace and in the wider hospitality industry. There is a high percentage of female staff at the College, who act as role models and inspiration to our students.

At Kenvale College, we make an effort to support women and gender equality in the Australian hospitality industry. Kenvale College supports gender and cultural diversity through a range of initiatives.

In turn, we support our staff by offering flexible working arrangements (including part time, work from home and flexible hours), and provide advice regarding parental and maternity leave to both staff and students. We also offer support for both staff and students who need to bring children to work when childcare arrangements fail.

Here at Kenvale College, we promote a safe and fair working and learning environment, and do not tolerate any discriminatory behaviour towards students or staff. We pride ourselves on creating a supportive learning environment, where everyone is treated equally and fairly.

Gender equality in the Australian hospitality industry is certainly achievable, but we’ve still got a way to go. Want to make your mark? Find out more about Kenvale’s hospitality management courses.

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