Factors affecting placement and professional growth of female employees in the Hotel industry: The case of Malindi Town
Although there is increasing realization that gender disparity affects economic development, lack of equal opportunities in the employment sector continues to be a dominant feature in many countries all over the world. These disparities arise from socio-cultural, political and economic factors. Individual country efforts have yielded a lot of success in some countries like the Nordic countries where they have attained up to 100% gender parity. In Kenya, women constitute more than 50% of the total population and their active participation in economic activities will significantly boost economic growth in the country. Tremendous efforts have been made by the Kenyan government to ensure that women are well-represented in all sectors of the economy. This includes legislation, affirmative action and gender mainstreaming, among others. However, little is known about how successful these efforts have been in ensuring equity in placement and professional growth of female and male employees particularly in hotel industry. Hotel industry supports tourism, which is the leading foreign exchange earner in Kenya and the major employer in Malindi Town, Coast Province. This study sought to find out the factors that affect the placement and professional growth of female employees in 6 selected star rated hotels in Malindi Town. The specific objectives were to determine the proportion of female and male employees at different ranks, identify factors determining the placement and affecting professional growth of female employees in the selected star-rated hotels in Malindi town; and suggest effective strategies of promoting placement and professional growth of female employees in hotel industry in Malindi Town. The study used descriptive design with both quantitative and qualitative research techniques. The researcher administered closed-ended questionnaires which were used to collect quantitative data from 34 female employees in the sampled hotels. For qualitative data, an interview schedule was used to interview key informants: a human resource manager and a female employee in management from each of the 6 hotels; a total of 9 key informant interviews were conducted. Data was analyzed using SPSS. The study concluded that there were clear gender disparities in job placement in the hotels under study with the male employees being much more than the female employees. It was also concluded that even though the hotels offered equal employment opportunities for placement and promotion, the reality showed that the female employees were still low in representation in all ranks and across all the departments. This was attributed to stereo types regarding performance with regard to gender. It is recommended that clear policies be designed and the existing ones implemented to ensure gender issue are properly addressed. Several recommendations have been made for policy and further study.