Travel tech must embrace gender equality now or risk falling behind, warns Terrapay manager

Travel tech must embrace gender equality now or risk falling behind, warns Terrapay manager

Maria Sellar, general manager for travel of Terrapay, spoke at Bavel Travel Summit

Speaking today at the Bavel Travel Summit taking place in Spain, Maria Sellar, general manager for travel of Terrapay, called out gender bias in the travel technology industry.

During a speech titled Breaking Barriers: Inclusion and Diversity in Travel Industry Leadership, Sellar went on to demand the travel technology industry bridges this gap or risks falling behind.

Whilst addressing the audience of more than 200 travel tech professionals at the event in Sitges, Sellar shared her own experiences of discrimination and highlighted research seen by Terrapay that proved the stark inequality between males and females in the sector, including that:

  • Only 28% of tech employees are female, but more worryingly still the percentage of women serving as CEOs in technology companies is only roughly 17%.
  • There’s some evidence things are going backwards: there was a decline of 2.1% in the representation of women in big tech companies between 2020 and 2022!
  • Between 2016 and 2022, an average of only 15% of tech startup founders were female, according to Startup Genome, 2023.

“You only need to look down the list of attendees at travel technology events to see how male dominated it is, there’s not much statistical analysis to be done – and again, when you look at who is speaking on stage or who are the CEOs, the gap is obvious and worrying” said Sellar. 

She added: “For anyone with any doubts about the value of gender equality, consider that it isn't just a moral imperative—it's a strategic advantage that fosters creativity and a broader range of perspectives, ultimately benefiting the industry. 

"Without bringing about change rapidly in the travel technology space we really risk falling behind, other parts of tech are waking up to this and will poach all our best female talent.”

As a starting point for change, Sellar went on to recommend four actions the industry needs to embrace to bridge the gap quickly:

  • Leadership buy-in and commitment to this process, including mentoring programs.
  • Fostering an inclusive culture through training initiatives targeting unconscious bias and cultivating a workplace environment where all employees feel valued and respected.
  • Professional opportunities for growth and development through access to education and training in emerging travel technologies like AI, blockchain, and data analytics.
  • Equal Pay as a non-negotiable fact, maintained by periodic independent reviews with data published publicly.   

She concluded: “As an industry we simply must try harder, what we have now simply is not acceptable or good enough by far.”