2022 journal article
Gender, work, and tourism in the Guatemalan Highlands
Journal of Sustainable Tourism.
While much of modern tourism research centers on the tourist as a leisure consumer, workers are frequently overlooked. Despite a recent uptick in attention to tourism work, the primary focus remains on employee’s skills and qualifications. In contrast, the key contextual factors of race, ethnicity, and gender that surround tourism work are seldom examined. This comparative study addresses the theme of traditional gender roles, particularly in patriarchal societies, and how they affect tourism work. Specifically, it investigates how the presence of tourism influences cultural norms determining appropriate jobs for men and women. Utilizing an ethnographic field research approach, data were collected from participants in two indigenous Maya communities in Guatemala, each with differing models and lengths of tourism development. Free-listing exercises were used to elicit residents’ perceptions of employment as it relates to gender in their community and cultural consensus analysis was used to analyze the data. Results show that neither community shares consensus on jobs for women and only one community shares consensus on men’s jobs. Results suggest that tourism disrupts cultural norms related to gender roles; yet this may not always benefit women.