Where are all the women at? Off traveling the world, I presume (*raises hand*). There’s no doubt we’ve seen a huge influx of solo female travelers in the last few years, which is beyond amazing. But let’s shift the focus to the people we look up to in the industry, that plaster billboards and sell 30-second spots.
In this case, there are very few females to be found.
Male television stars, who share their traveling journies on the road, foodie adventures, and tips and tricks, are everywhere. And it got me wondering why there are no great female travel stars.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Anthony Bourdain, Guy Fieri, and Rick Steves. But Overall, networks tend to shy away from female voices. Other than Viceland who surprisingly represents a good amount of female travel hosts, most networks are hugely lacking in this space.
“The average adventure traveler is not a 28-year old male, but a 47-year-old female. And she wears a size 12 dress.” – Marybeth Bond, The Gutsy Traveler
Aside from this eye-opening statistic, the travel industry embarrassingly lacks female travel hosts, as pointed out on Conde Nast Traveler. As my case in point, even this list of the best 15 travel shows on Netflix includes all men and only men. So what gives?
Women are not representing women. Instead, male travel hosts are trying to fill this gap. And no offense to them, but the fact of the matter is, traveling can be very different for women. Women often have to think about safety and what to wear as they are visiting different cultures. None of which are really covered in-depth by our male counterparts.
In interesting contrast though, YouTube comes to mind as being more of an equal playing field. A lot of women post their travel vlogs and offer tips and tricks while on the road solo, and though I couldn’t find a solid statistic to back this up, they seem to outnumber men in this area on YouTube.
If women are traveling (which we clearly are because 54 percent of the most affluent travelers are women), why are we not being portrayed in television? Should we settle for our amazing female YouTubers, or ask for more?
“My family begged me not to travel. I would ‘lose my power in my home’, they said. ‘It’s not safe,’ they said.” Her friends echoed these sentiments, warning ‘Don’t travel alone.'” -Usha Mary, 34, National Geographic
For a lot of women, this disapproval of solo traveling is still very much persistent. For me, I am lucky to have a family and boyfriend that supports my desires to travel. But for a lot of females in other countries, it will require more and more prominent females breaking the molds and setting the standards.
The Future Could be Female?
The Travel Channel is said to have recently picked up a handful of shows that feature female travel hosts, which are currently in production. If this is true, then it’s a nice start.
However, I am still a little skeptical. When female travel hosts are signed, the result is usually an overly sexualized portrayal of traveling. The Huffington Post made a good comparison of the expectations surrounding female travel host’s looks, vs male travel hosts (Pssst, looks don’t matter for dudes). Unsurprisingly, looks matter when you’re a female hosting a travel show.
I recognize this is a larger issue within television in general. As a travel blogger, I am particularly passionate about getting a lot more awesome, girlboss travelers to look up to. We need it.
Before I end, I’d like to talk about what’s going right in the travel industry. Airbnb just released a 37-page report in March called Women Hosts and Airbnb: Building a Global Community. This report revealed with facts and figures, what amazing work Airbnb has been doing (quietly, behind the scenes if I might add) to help economically empower women around the world.
“Today, some one million women host on Airbnb, accounting for 55 percent of its global host community.” -Aribnb
Now that we’ve discussed a little bit about the lack of females in the travel industry, I’d like to open this post up to some discussion!
What are your thoughts on women being portrayed in the travel industry, as travel hosts or just in general? And how can we be more accurately portrayed?
*Just a little disclaimer: I thought this was an interesting topic to discuss. There are many male travel hosts that I absolutely adore, and this is in no way trying to take away from their success.