Bringing more gender balance to the tourism sector

Holly Galbraith. Photo Jeff ‘Male Dominated Since 1986’ Dawson.

Paul Bibby

Tourism professional and Brunswick Heads resident Holly Galbraith has been recognised by The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) with a 2020 World of Difference Award. 

The awards acknowledge extraordinary women and men from around the world who have contributed to the economic empowerment of women.

Ms Galbraith was selected for her ongoing work with Women in Tourism Australia, an organisation that she co-founded in 2015 with Emma Castle, former editor of Spice Magazine.

Women in Tourism advocates for gender balance and diversity at all levels of the tourism industry.

‘Women in Tourism came together after sitting in too many tourism events, where the audience was full of women, and the stage was full of men’, Ms Galbraith says.

‘I was sitting in this AGM one day, and I had this light bulb moment.

‘I thought, “Everyone talks about women in banking, finance, science, but no one ever talks about tourism”.’

While there are a growing number of women running tourism businesses in Australia, the boards of governing bodies and industry groups remain significantly male-dominated.

For example, Destination NSW has a male general manager, a male chair of board, and 70 per cent of the board are male.

The body is also answerable to the State’s male tourism minister, Stuart Ayers.

‘The perception is that because so many women work in tourism, we don’t have a gender issue, but when you start looking at who is on the tourism boards and in the leadership positions, it is far from gender equal or diverse’, Ms Galbraith says.

‘Women in Tourism Australia aims to change that’, she said.

Ms Galbraith and Ms Castle’s organisation has run more than 20 events in the past five years.

These covered topics such as mentorship, gender diversity in the workplace, career pathways, and the role men play in womens’ careers.

‘Raising awareness is key, but we also need to call out inequalities when we see them.

‘If there’s a conference on and you look at the line-up, and it’s hugely dominated by men, we need to call it out.

‘We also need men calling it out too’.

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