Women in ecotourism

Women in ecotourism

Material Information

Women in ecotourism
Translated Title:
Mujeres en ecoturismo
Doherty, Emily
Publication Date:
Text in English


Subjects / Keywords:
Ecotourism ( lcsh )
Ecoturismo ( lcsh )
Women ( lcsh )
Mujeres ( lcsh )
Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Monteverde Zone
Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Zona de Monteverde
Mount Holyoke and Goucher 2014


Ecotourism is one of Costa Rica's main industries, and while it brings huge economic capital into the country, these new opportunities are not equally distributed among all genders. Women are slowly gaining social equality, but currently women are limited by only getting specific domestic jobs in the ecotourism industry. Many argue that ecotourism in Monteverde is empowering women and it is true that more women are getting jobs outside the home, however, they are generally still confined to domestic types of jobs like cleanin and cooking. A survey of 12 businesses in Monteverde revealed that out of 22 outdoor educational ecotourism guides, only 2 of them were women. The women who are working in ecotourism are not being active members of the experiential process.
General Note:
Student affiliation: Mount Holyoke and Goucher Program, Monteverde Institute
General Note:
Born Digital

Record Information

Source Institution:
Monteverde Institute
Holding Location:
Monteverde Institute
Rights Management:
This item is licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivative License. This license allows others to download this work and share them with others as long as they mention the author and link back to the author, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.
Resource Identifier:
M38-00111 ( USFLDC DOI )
m38.111 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information



This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text


Emily Doherty Environmental Studies April 10 2014 Women in Ecotourism Abstract: Ecotourism is one of Costa Rica € s main industries, and while it brings huge economic capital into the country, these new opportunities are not equally distributed among all genders. Women are slowly gaining social equality, but currently women are limited by only getting specific domestic jo bs in the ecotourism industry. Many argue that ecotourism in Monteverde is empowering women and it is true that more women are getting jobs outside the home, however, they are generally still confined to domestic types of jobs like cleaning and cooking. A survey of 12 businesses in Monteverde revealed that out of 22 outdoor educational eco tourism guides, only 2 of them were women. The women who are working in ecotourism are not being active members of the experiential process. Resumen: Introduction: W omen are fighting all over the world for gender equality, and the prevalence of sexism c an especially be found in specific parts of the world, including C entral America I n Costa Rica, machismo is often prevalent in the street, in the family structure, and in the job force. Ecotourism brings in the vast majority of Costa Rica€s overall reven ue and bolsters their economy and provides many more new jobs Horton 2009 Within ecotourism though, there are many different classifications of jobs, r anging from janitorial staff, guides gardeners,


receptionists, accounts managers and administrators According to Gender and Tourism 2014  women make up the majority of the tourism workforce, but they tend to be in the lowest paid, sometimes even un paid, and lowest status jobs‚. For my project, I looked at women€s employment in  acti ve ‚ and educational job positions within Ecotourism in Monteverde. I hypothesize that in the Ecotourism business, less than 20% of all guides, activity leaders, and educational persons will be women. I also think that the vast majority of the women wi ll be working in kitchens and be cleaning help I hypothesize that more than 75% of all people workin g as janitorial staff and in the kitchen are women. While ecotourism opens up job positions this fact alone does not guarantee that there will be equal opportunities for men and women, especially in less developed areas in Central American such as Costa Rica. The ecotourism in Costa Rica does provide some benef its and positively influences the local economy. Tourism provides many jobs, which opens up po sitions for women. Koens 2009 argues that ecotourism empowers women because it provides new job ope nings outside of domestic work for women. The tourism industry pours 1,200 million dollars into C osta Rica every year which creates thousands of new oppor tunities and jobs and significantly bolsters their economy Koens 2009 This fact does not however mean that these new jobs are providing equal opportunities throughout the country. Chant 2000 shows how socially constructed ideas of masculinity and fem ininity in the household retain significant importance in the way that people act in response to women moving into the workforce. Especially when traditional gender roles are overturned, men, who hold most social power, are highly reactive when their power is seemingly threatened by women step ping out of the traditional gender roles. Chant show s how strong these roles are in everyday situations W omen, especially of older generations, feel like they belong at home and are kept in the household by these invi sible, yet very strong, pressures


A great example of gender roles at play is a woman in Monteverde who opened a jam shop with other women in t he town. At first, she had a lot of push back from their families, and even today she struggles with feelings of guilt for leaving her f amily to work outside the home name pers. comm. Part of the reason why the jam company succeeded is because of the strong tourist industry in Monteverde. Women all over the world are fighting for their right to be independent and self sufficient, but even in the United States, women still only make 77 cents to every dollar that a man makes in the same position Hayriye 2006 With the economic support of ecotourism, these women are able to expand their job opportunities and step outside the home. As this is expansion is empowering for many Costa Rican women, we will see that there is still a strong trend in the types of domestic jobs are actually available to women. Materials and Methods: I developed a questionnaire in Spanish that ask ed the various businesses in Monteverde and Santa Elena about their employees, the different job positions available, how many applicants they received, and the salary of their employees Appendix I. To collect the survey data, I went t o 12 eco tourism related businesses and talked to the main person at reception or who ever they then directed me to. I conducted all of the interviews in Spanish, unless the employee initiated En glish with me first 2 interviews. For each interview I fi rst explained that I was a student at the Monteverde Institute and that I was do ing a project for my class and th en I asked them if they would not mind answering a few questions. I found out that a few very small businesses I had interviewed were run and managed by only one person so I excluded them from my sample.


Results: Like my hypothesis, I found only women workers doing domestic cleaning jobs Figures 1 and 2 I also found only males working as gardeners or with animals Figure 2 The exception to this is El Establo because I was unable to gather exactly how many cleaning men they had because they have approximately 200 workers. I also found that the overwhelming majority of guides are men. Out of 22 guides, there were on ly 2 women. The guides are interesting because they do not make a set salary. The guide € s income is based on how many tours they give, so in the high tourist season they can make more a lot more money than in the low tourist season. They are also one of t he only ecotourist occupations that have the potential to make extra money on tips. Even though my data sample is small, some of the most interesting information came from people€s perspectives when I was out performing interviews. The very first place t hat I went to, the women receptionist working at the Serpentario justified the male guides getting paid more than the women because she thought that the men had harder jobs and more to do than the women. I personally do not know if this is true or not but her statement is one that can easily perpetuate sexism. When I was talking to another woman at El Establo, she said that there are, obviously more women on the cleaning staff than men‚ which again tells us that she is not challenging the way traditi onal gender roles currently are. The last observation that I made was when I knocked at a small hotel and a woman answered, but then immediately called her male co worker over to interview me. These things that I noted are all micro aggressions that occur hundreds of times every day that reinforce gender roles Ref? Most of the time, g ender roles are not being held in place by overt sexists, but instead by everyone in society with hundreds of


subtle micro aggressions. Women are also oppressing themselves by taking these micro aggressions to heart, internalizing them, and not challenging the norms. Discussion Like I anticipated, my findings conclude that the overall trend is that many more women are performing indoor domest ic jobs such as cleaning whil e many more men have education related or outdoor jobs. My original hypothesis of less than 2 0% of all guides and education related jobs leaders in ecotourism would be women was supported as I found that women only make up 9.1 % of all guide positions. I wa s un able to make a conclusive statement about what percentage of men are doing domestic cleaning jobs because many ecotourism businesses coul d not tell me exactly how many cleaning employees they had, and could just tell me that there were more women than men. Horton 2009 explains how ecotourism has not necessarily challenged or subverted traditional gender roles, but rather has been viewed as a ƒnatural€ extension of women€s household roles of cleaning, cooking, and serving others‚ My fin dings also support Horton€s ideas of ecotourism being positive in that it provides more economic opportunities for women, but negative in the sense that women are not getting positions that challenge gender roles. The overwhelming majority of women who I gathered data about where still bound to specific domestic jobs. The likely causes behind my findings may come from very long and complex roots in gender inequality. To start, there is the general sense that women are not as mentally and p hysically strong as men Ref? T his is a stereotype that is slowly being unwound, but still clearly has roots in almost all societies around the globe. This belief would both cause others to view women as not as capable as men, thus providing women a disadvantage from the very beginning in their household and school opportunities, to friendships and career paths.


Em ployers in a sexist or machista society will hire men over women because statistically men are likely to stay at a company for a longer duration of t ime, and women are more likely to choose jobs that have less labor market experience‚ Blau and Kahn 2000 Societies ideas of unequal gender values will be reflected in women too, so women will apply and work towards more domestic jobs because those are the things that they have been told they are good at, or have seen other women role models doing. This will prevent women from standing up for themselves, and thus companies get fewer women applications to certain jobs, such as being a guide. This is ju st the tip of unraveling the full string of understanding sexism. Acknowledgements: I want to thank all the businesses that participat ed in my survey, including Serpent ario, Choco Caf, Hidden Valley Night Tour, El Establo, Monteverde Cons ervation League Ranario, Art House, El Viandante Hotel, and Monteverde Community Fund. I would also like to thank Carlos for helping me figure out my project and being very supportive. Literature Cited: should be listed in alphabetical order Blau F. D., Kahn L. M. 2000. Gender Differences in Pay. National Bureau of Economic Research. Chant, S 2000 Men in crisis? Reflections on Masculinitie s, Work and Family in North West Costa Rica. The European J ournal of Development Research. 12:199 218. Gender and Tourism. 2014. Ethics and Social Dimensions of Tourism http://ethics.unwto.org/content/gender and tourism


Horton, L. R. 2009. Buying Up Nature: Economic and Social Impacts o f C osta Rica€s Ecotourism Boom. Latin American Perspectives 36 :93 107. Jacobus, K. F., C. Dieperink, and M. Mirand a. 2009. Ecotourism as a Development Strategy: Experiences from Costa Rica ‚ Environ Dev Sustain 11:1225 1237 not cited within the document that I could find Hayriye S. C 2006. Women in Management: Still Wanting t o be Full Members of the Club. Sex roles 55:63 72


Figures: Figure 2 Occupation of males at 12 ecotourist related businesses in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Figure 1 Female occupations at 12 ecotourist related businesses in Monteverde, Costa Rica Men's Jobs Guides Receptionist Cleaning Cooking Women's Jobs Guides Receptionist Cleaning Cooking


Figure 3. Breakdown of genders in regards to the ownership of 12 ecotourist related businesses in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Did not find this figure referred to in the document A ppendix I: Questions used during interviews with personnel at ecotourist related businesses in Monteverde, Costa Rica. 1. Cuntos empleados trabajan en este negocio? 2. Cuntos puestos de trabajo diferente s tienen en este negocio ? 3. Cu ntos muje res y hombres empleados trabajan ac? 4. Usted sabe cuntos solicitudes ha recibido en el ltimo ao ? 5. Es posible que yo puedo saber el salario de los empleados? o Para cada puesto de trabajo diferente? Male/Female Business Owners Female Male Joint


Appendix I I : Table showing the results from all of the businesses in the Monteverde region where interviews were conducted. Number 13 was excluded from the overall summary because there was inconclusive data the re were not enough employees for the questions to be applicable. N ame Total Worke rs Wom en Me n Guides Receptio nist Cleani ng Cooking Salary Other 1. Serpent ario 4 2 2 2men guides/ani mal care 2women 300 men 270 women the men have harder jobs‚ 2. Choco Cafe 5 4 1 2 women cooks 1 woman cook 230 all others 280 1 male +1 female barista 3. Hidden Valley Night Tour 4 0 4 4 men $30 per tour 4. Hotel next to El Establo 20 10 10 All men Only women Refused 5. El Establo 200 More wome n ? 7 men More women than men Refused obviou sly more women clearner s‚ 6. Bajo del Tigre 24 9 13 1 woman/4 men/ no women rangers Reception: $1000 Guides: $500 1500 7. Childrens Eternal Rainforest Sales office 10 3 7 1 woman/3 men Male Receptioni st= minimum wage 8. Ranario 10 2 8 1 woman Refused 1 W account ant 9. Art House 2 1 1 1 owner woman 1 garden er man 300 women owner 260 male gardener 10. Restaurant/H otel 2 1 1 1 man 1 women 1 samewo man Woman directed me to man


11.El Viandante Hotel 3 2 1 1 woman 2 owners= 1 woman 1 man 12. MV Community Fund 2 0 2 owner+ assistant 13. Untitled Gift Shop near Super Compro 1 Only one male owner.


Download Options

No images are available for this item.
Cite this item close


Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.


Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.


Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.


Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.