An Exploration of COVID-19’s Impact on Woman Employees’ Working Lives in the Hospitality Industry

Chen, Lin
Mooney, Shelagh
Item type
Degree name
Master of International Hospitality Management
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Auckland University of Technology

The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 has harmed the health, lives, and economies of people around the world. The hospitality industry, already vulnerable to external threats, has been severely affected by this crisis. The industry has always been a major employer, providing a significant number of jobs in the global labour market. Part-time and seasonal hospitality work can meet the needs of women, especially those who have children, as it enables them to have time to work and care for their families. Worldwide, most hospitality workers are women, and since the hospitality industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, women’s employment in the hospitality industry is bound to be greatly affected. Compared with previous crises such as the Global Financial Crisis of 2018, the COVID-19 crisis has had a greater impact and was unpredictable in its nature and effects. Therefore, it is important to determine the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry generally, and on women working in the hospitality industry in particular. This study used an interpretivist paradigm to guide the research process. Using a qualitative approach, secondary data collection method was applied to collect data from mass media. A thematic analysis method was used to analyse the data to provide a holistic view of information related to COVID-19’s impact on women working in the hospitality industry. The findings of this study revealed that COVID-19’s impact changed the hospitality industry. Government’s reactions to the COVID-19 crisis had an impact on hospitality businesses and the hospitality workforce. Hospitality employers were affected by Government’s reactions and responded to defend their businesses, but hospitality employees had to accept the effects. The COVID-19 crisis changed the characteristics of the hospitality industry. Not only did the hospitality industry lose its status as a significant employer, but hospitality work became more demanding due to COVID-19. In the COVID-19 crisis, problems such as low pay, gender pay gaps and work-family conflict in the hospitality industry were amplified. The requirements for suitable employees to work in the industry also changed, as evidenced by the reduced aesthetic labour requirements. Hospitality career paths may also change due to limited mobility caused by travel restrictions. Furthermore, women working in the hospitality industry were more likely to have reduced job opportunities than were men, and many had to stay at home as primary caregivers during the COVID-19 crisis. Women’s confinement at home and men returning to the workforce can arise from social system problems that cannot give women an equal chance to have work and gender-based stereotypes that force women to take the main share of family responsibilities.

Women employees , Hospitality industry , COVID-19 , Crisis , Domestic responsibility , Gender stereotype , Mass media sources
Publisher's version
Rights statement