Women in the Restaurant Industry

So here are the issues:

Being a woman. Being a woman in a service industry. Being a woman in a service industry that depends on tips for salary.

So basically… I’m a whore.

You might say that I’m exaggerating, but it really does feel that way sometimes. Not only am I selling food and drinks, I’m selling the experience of being in a restaurant/bar. And part of that experience is me – the server or the bartender (or bartendress, as I like to call myself). If they don’t like the food, the experience and/or me, then I don’t get paid.

Sometimes it’s easy. The guest wants to enjoy themselves and at this point I love my job. But there are also guests who want me to make  them enjoy themselves. They come in wanting to hate everything in life and I have to prove that they should love my restaurant/bar.  This requires a lot of ass-kissing.

I really dislike discussing gender (in)equality issues because I naively believe that everyone is the same – men, women, old, young, black, white, tan, purple, blah blah blah. But let’s face it: women get treated differently than men. Period.

I’ve discussed this issue in terms of the restaurant industry with a number of people, and this is what I’ve come up with….  Women working as servers or bartenders tend to fall into two general categories within the eyes of their customers.

#1 The Mother figure. Women are obviously supposed to be the nurturing types and want to care for people.

Oh! A woman bringing me food! That’s so lovely ….and normal! Why would I need to tip her?? This is what she does! This is what she is meant to do! It’s not even like a job to her!

(In contrast, when men serve in restaurants it’s SO impressive… HA!)

#2 The slut. Women use their sexuality to get what they want.

Flirting, giggling, wearing tight-fitting clothes – now that is something to pay women for!

This type of server works best as a cocktail waitress at a lounge or a server at  Hooters-type restaurant.

Now, the problem with these two categories is that they tend to alienate other women. Women guests don’t appreciate either of these female personalities for obvious reasons. A woman doesn’t need a mother-figure, she IS the nurturing one! And a woman obviously doesn’t appreciate the slut-type flirting with her date/husband!

So how can a woman working in the restaurant industry win? Is there another option?

God I hope so.

When I’m working, I try to see myself as a hostess of a party. Everyone in the restaurant is a friend or acquaintance and I want them to have a good time. I don’t need to baby them because they are adults. And I don’t need to turn the flirt on because this is a classy dinner party.

I just hope that the people who come into the restaurant can see me in this light.

Not too much to ask, right?


About kellchris

I'm an artist and art therapy student. When I'm not painting or experimenting with ceramics, I'm usually hiking, cooking, or making the big bucks bartending. View all posts by kellchris

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