Universities lead the way in gender specific travel preparedness

Carolyn Pearson, Founder & CEO Maiden Voyage   •   Aug, 2018

Education Sector is Leading the Way in Gender-based TRM

Of all the sectors that have adopted a ‘gender agenda’ to support their female and LGBTQ travellers, none have done so to quite the same extent as the education Sector. Numerous universities are investing in gender specific pre-travel support, with more planning to do so in the coming 12 months.

In 2017, we ran a piece of research looking at the issues facing women in academia who travel frequently on business. We found that those experiencing negative issues (28%) slightly surpassed the global average of 25%.

The types of incidents ranged from sexual advances, molestation, being followed, blackmail, up-skirting, having photographs taken of them by strangers and being offered money for sex. Alarmingly, some of these incidents were carried out by local colleagues and travel providers. While the traveller profiles and destinations are no more varied than in many other industries, it’s hard to pin-point why the academic sector has a higher incident rate, beyond the fact that a significant number of recruitment personnel are often younger, more inexperienced travellers and frequently travel alone. It is encouraging however that the academic sector is investing in gender specific pre-travel training, with many investing in our eLearning suite. The perception of the travellers themselves reflects this with 82% of those surveyed stating that they feel adequately supported by their employers when travelling on business.

The story changes slightly however when an incident does occur. Frequently, the break down in safety and security happens at the travel booking stage. One traveller reported having been asked to take a night train through India by herself and another was left to sort out her own ground transportation from one country to another whilst she was actually en-route. Understandably, she found herself in a very challenging and stressful situation. Moreover, when incidents did occur, only 48% of those affected actually reported these to their employers. Without that feedback loop, organisations cannot know about or address these incidents, support their travellers, or remove offending suppliers from the supply chain.

Aside from the university sector a number of special interest groups are showing an increased commitment to addressing gender specific travel safety, with organisations such as NUIG (Northern Universities Insurance Group) and a number of purchasing consortia running specialist traveller safety workshops and educational sessions for their members.