Date of Award

Spring 5-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


Planning and Urban Studies

Major Professor

Renia Ehrenfeucht

Second Advisor

Steve Striffler

Third Advisor

Marla Nelson

Fourth Advisor

Rachel Luft


In the hospitality industry, women with children are in a unique position. Government deregulation of corporate labor practices, the exit of manufacturing overseas, and the rise of the service sector economy in the United States has contributed to the development of a surplus, low-wage labor force. Tourism is one subset of this labor force that deserves further attention. Although there is substantial literature on the structure of low-wage labor in tourism economies (Herod and Aguiar, 2006), as well as the impacts on work-family balance (Liladrie, 2009), a less explored topic is the impacts hospitality labor has on mothering. The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of women with children who 1) work in the hospitality industry and 2) whose work is located in the tourism districts of Seattle, Washington and New Orleans, Louisiana. The investigator used semi-structured, qualitative interviews that asked women about the decisions they make for their children, how their work in hospitality influences their parenting decisions, and how they assign meaning to their roles as mothers. The investigator found that women in the hospitality industry do not separate work and motherhood as two separate spheres. Work is a mothering strategy. The decisions they make for their children are characterized by mobility, particularly through relocation. Finally, this study found that women who work in the hospitality industry navigate various “markers” that stigmatize them in the workplace. The investigator calls this “motherhood markers;” forms of stigma that intensify emotional labor in their workplaces, can create tension with employers and co-workers and, in some cases, termination of their employment.


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