LOS ANGELES -- Addressing the gender gap in travel
technology, Phocuswright hosted its inaugural Women's Leadership Initiative during
the Phocuswright Conference.
According to Phocuswright, just one in 10 individuals in
senior leadership roles in travel technology are female.
The session featured a panel of four women in leadership
roles for travel companies, including Dorothy Dowling, Best Western's senior
vice president and chief marketing officer; Erika Moore, Travelport's vice
president and general manager for U.S. sales; Eva Jenner, vice president of
sales for Holland America Line and Seabourn; and Siew Hoon Yeoh, founder of
media company Web In Travel and editorial director of Northstar Travel Media
Asia. The panel was moderated by Mary Pat Sullivan, founder of Sullivan
The panelists tackled
topics ranging from the importance of having strong role models to the
challenges of having to override societal norms.
"One thing that is a problem when it comes to bringing
up girls and boys is that boys are taught to be courageous, to just try
anything, to just go for it," said Moore. "Women, as girls, are
trained to be poised and composed and perfect. And we have to let women know
they can go out and try, and if they fail, then try again."
Much of the discussion centered on the value of having
formal mentorship and leadership programs in place to support female employees.
A Phocuswright survey indicated that 27% of travel technology companies have a
formal mentorship program available.
"I tell people that [becoming a woman in leadership] is
a really hard journey," said Dowling. "And if you don't have people
to support you along the way, it's going to be tough to pass through that
journey. All women need someone to look up to in their life, so they have
someone to follow."
Sullivan touted the early morning session's high attendance
as indication that demand is high for women's leadership.
"This isn't just for today," said Sullivan. "We
hope this will be a long-term tradition, and I think the ladies on this panel
would love to see that happen. We need diversity of thought, and there is a
clear business case for diversity. This isn't about being nice to women. It's
about strengthening your business and having women on top helps to strengthen a