• Brittney Martino holding student patents
  • Shekinah Hoffman, Special Project Coordinator, International Gaming Institute, and Toni Repetti, Assistant Professor, William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at Tahiti Village Vacation Club
  • Woman speaking on stage

Expanding the Leaderverse

The initiative promotes diversity and inclusion in the hospitality, gaming, and tourism industries at the K-12, university, and industry levels. By bridging the gap between university and industry, UNLV IGI aims to also shrink the gender gap that presently exists within the hospitality and gaming industry’s executive representation.

“Opportunities are missed without diversity of thought and opinion in leadership. When women have a seat at the table, our companies are more productive, innovative, and better places to work.”

Jan Jones Blackhurst, former Caesars Entertainment executive and two-term mayor of Las Vegas

K-12 Level

Young Executive Scholars 

At the K-12 level, through our partnership with Clark County School District (CCSD), IGI offers the Young Executive Scholars programs (YES). These programs are designed to empower and encourage under-resourced Las Vegas youth to discover the managerial and executive-level career opportunities available to them in the tourism, hospitality and interactive entertainment industries.

Learn More

University Level

With more developments in the university-level “Expanding the Leaderverse” initiative to come, currently, Becky Harris—IGI’s Distinguished Fellow in Gaming & Leadership and former first-ever chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada senator—continues to work with Dan Sahl on promoting patent production for women and women in innovation through IGI’s Center for Gaming Innovation (CGI).

To date, CGI has six patents and two patents-pending issued to female inventors.

Workforce, Community, and Industry Level

Since 2013, when IGI first partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business and Extended Studies on the Executive Development Program (EDP), diversity amongst attendees and speakers has steadily increased over the years. The 2019 program hit a record-high of female attendees, boasting 24 burgeoning female leaders in gaming from five countries.

Speakers and topics on the EDP agenda included:

  • IGI’s own Becky Harris on Wynn, #metoo, and new regulations addressing sexual harassment;
  • Punam Mathur, executive director of the Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation, on women and diversity;
  • A panel discussion with Amy Ayoub (owner/president,The Zen Speaker), Maria Christina Annaloro (director of government relations & social sciences, Sands Corporation), and Becky Harris on sex trafficking;
  • Holly Gagnon, president and CEO of Seneca Gaming Corporation, on leadership; and
  • Shondra Deloach-Perea on her experiences building IGT's "The Power of We" women's program.

“Never underestimate your power as a citizen advocate.”

Becky Harris, IGI Distinguished Fellow in Gaming & Leadership | EDP 2019

Women in Gaming & Hospitality Executive Development Program Scholarship

New to EDP 2019 is the Women in Gaming & Hospitality Executive Development Program Scholarship, which is awarded to a deserving female leader in gaming and covers the cost of EDP tuition, transportation, and lodging (an approx. $15,000 USD value). This scholarship joins the EDP 2018 addition of the Clarion-ECA-AGEM EDP Scholarship, which offers the same opportunity to a female leader in gaming from an organization belonging to the European Casino Association (ECA).

“EDP was an exhausting and demanding ten days that I honestly wouldn’t have made it through without my working group, or the comradery of my 57 new friends. I am invigorated and excited about the future for gaming with so many great leaders emerging, all of whom I know I can reach out to at any time, as they can to me.”

Hannah Morelos, Director of Gaming, The Star Gold Coast, Australia | Winner of the Inaugural Women in Gaming & Hospitality EDP Scholarship


Underpinning all of IGI’s efforts is research. A duo of researchers, Shekinah Hoffman and Toni Repetti, have dedicated their studies to understanding occupational segregation and gender disparity in the casino/gaming industry. Their study, which is the first study on women in gaming management in more than 20 years, was published in 2018 and is available to read online: “Glass Ceilings & Leaky Pipelines: Gender Disparity in the Casino Industry.”

A follow up to Repetti and Hoffman's “Glass Ceilings & Leaky Pipelines,” entitled “Where Women Stand in Tribal vs. Non-Tribal Gaming Leadership,” was published in 2020 by the same team of researchers; adding to the original study, this paper looks at the gender leadership gap in tribal gaming vs. non-tribal gaming.

Hoffman, who is currently working on her Ph.D. in Sociology, uses her research to take a qualitative look at women in gaming management; through a series of interviews, Hoffman works to understand experiences and challenges in the workplace and factors that may contribute to the women’s leadership gap.

"More than one-third of women report that they have been sexually harassed in the workplace at some point throughout their careers. In my seventy interviews with women across the global industry, and multiple years of study on this issue, I have found sexual harassment, gender harassment, and unwanted sexual attention remains pervasive and normative within the gaming workplace, despite proactive measures taken to combat it. A male-dominated industry paired with a service culture leaves women, particularly young women in front-line positions, incredibly vulnerable and susceptible to harassment from both staff and customers. All too often, women’s stories of harassment and misconduct go untold or unaddressed."

Shekinah Hoffman, Ph.D. Researcher


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two women at resort property

Few women hold executive positions in the hospitality industry. Two UNLV researchers explore the implications.