Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)


Cork Institute of Technology.

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret Linehan


In recent years, the increasing number of women at the lower positions in the hospitality industry and their underrepresentation in top management positions has made women’s status in the industry a great concern. The purpose of this study is to examine the career progression of female graduates in the Irish hospitality industry.

A qualitative approach in the form of in-depth interviews of twenty-one female middle and senior managers in the Irish hospitality industry provided the opportunity to gain insights into their experiences and barriers faced in advancing their careers to senior management positions.

The results of the current study identify the challenges that female managers face in career progression. The main barriers highlighted include an out-of-date hospitality education programme, lack of organisational policies, lack of networking opportunities, and an inability to access female mentors. These barriers are created by the relationship between organisational culture, policies and attitudes, which typically collide with the career phase when women have young children. Whilst organisational policies were evident in the workplace, there was a strong sense that these policies were relevant to those in middle management positions and need to be addressed at a more senior level to encourage career progression. Additionally, hospitality education programmes need to be evaluated to ensure their relevance to an ever-changing hospitality industry.

The current study illustrates that female hospitality graduates are ambitious, however, the support of the hospitality industry and hospitality educators is vital to ensure their career progression to senior management level. Finally, the findings should not only be of academic concern, but should also be beneficial for industry leaders and practitioners.

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