Feminisation of family businesses
Owing to the gender division of work, the tasks that women develop in family businesses are often invisibilised, unrecognised, and unpaid. The invisibilisation is based on social acceptability, as women are seen as good wives and devoted mothers in charge of helping the family. However, seeing them as ‘good women’, instead of employees, causes a limited achievement of empowerment through work. Being a fragmented industry, tourism has several family-owned businesses. However, most studies about tourism and gender do not take into account informal or unpaid workers. As the Global Report on Women in Tourism (OMT and UN Women, 2010) confirms, women in family businesses make a significant proportion of unpaid work. The feminisation of family businesses can increase women’s workload caused by men not assuming family responsibilities on the same conditions. This inequality can sometimes be easily detected in community-based tourism as the tourist gets closer to family life. For instance, when tourists stay in the family house, they are provided with accommodation, meals, and intangible assets such as kindness, attention, and warmth; tasks that are mostly developed by women and habitually invisibilised. Moreover, women are usually in charge of fetching water, another invisibilised duty, to meet the basic needs of both family and guests. However, it is crucial to analyse community-based tourism businesses from two not necessarily contradictory points of view. In the first place, some women can empower themselves through family businesses by accessing the labour market, which has brought changes in gender roles, such as women developing jobs traditionally considered manly and men doing feminine tasks to improve the family businesses. At the same time, women have been able to generate their own income and increase their social participation in the community. Secondly, it is crucial to consider the responsibilities women can assume and not only count their position since feminised and masculinised tasks are naturalised due to gender roles. The gender division of tasks can also be detected in rural contexts businesses where men are in charge of the administrative management, home maintenance, and building a relationship with the client, which increases social recognition. On the contrary, women are invisibilised, as their tasks are not significantly distinguishable from housework. They are in charge of cooking, cleaning, setting up the room, and preparing food.
In the case of female tour leaders in Taiwan, 60% state that they have suffered sexual harassment during their working hours, contradicting government statistics that place sexual harassment at 1% in men and 6% in women’s case. As for the accompanying guides, the premise that the client is always right and the high weight of tips make their salary mostly dependent on the relationship with the clientele, which can lead to situations of sexual harassment. The same study concludes that most perpetrators are men (86%), in descending order, customers, bus drivers and other guides, while most victims are women. Furthermore, there are often no protocols to avoid situations of harassment, and in the event that they are present, many female workers are unaware of them. In the example of Taiwanese accompanying guides, more than half of the workers express that they are unsure whether the travel agency they are affiliated with has a protocol for sexual harassment. Moreover, 40% of the workers aware that the company has these policies does not know the content. That is why companies must adapt to each job’s characteristics, such as, in this case, the fact that the guides work outside the company and may have difficulty in carrying out any complaints.