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women and bad service

i replied to a thread on the boston board and that got deleted (like i knew it would) so i'll instead ask a question here.

often times women will claim they got ignored or received bad service "because they are women". i eat out frequently and sometimes will get haphazard, amateurish, disinterested, poor or occasionally even surly service. however, i never assume it's because of my gender. perhaps the kitchen is in melt-down, maybe the person is brand-new, maybe he's giving extra attention to regulars at my expense. i'm in the business and can drum up a gajillion other excuses.

i'm a sommelier, so usually order the wine, and more than once the server has presented the bottle to my male date. THAT'S gender-based. and stupid. but it always makes me chuckle.

anybody have actual proof, rather than the perceived slight, of being discriminated against as a diner because you're female?

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  1. If anything, I tend to get better service than average and I am female. But I am also very outgoing and friendly and engage the waitstaff, ask them about their day, what the recommend, etc. I think it's more about attitude than gender.
    My MIL always complains about poor service, but she looks down on anyone "serving" her and god forbid they are a person of color and sits there with her lips pursed, etc. She's also a lousy tipper and a general pain in the ass, but that's another thread for another day.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      I would not say that I've ever been discriminated against in US restaurants because of gender. However, since moving to Thailand, it has become very apparent that my dining needs come second to those of my husband. My glass will sit empty until my husband's needs refilling, for example. Other female friends have noticed it too. It doesn't bother me though - its all part of the experience and the food more than makes up for any difference in service.

      1. re: Janet from Richmond

        Your MIL sounds like a lovely person. ;-)

        I agree that, in my experience, the attitude of the customer has a great deal to do with the kind of service they receive. Treating waitstaff like people and not some sort of sub human species can certainly go far in assuring your dining experience is a good one. :)

        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          Janet- I love your attitude. As they say in Australia, you are spot on.

        2. In general, when I try a new place, I usually get mediocre service. This can happen with my fiance there or not, but generally, if I come off as the stronger personality (ie, I ask the server to fix something wrong with my meal, or for more drinks for both of us) instead of him, I don't get as good of service as when he is more outgoing to our server. It can be a male or female server.

          1. My wife claims that it depends upon who is in the resto and perception. According to her, if a sizeable middle aged man in a suit is at the bar it is understandable why he my get more attention from the staff (because they assume that he will tip better than the female at the other end of the bar).

            5 Replies
            1. re: Chinon00

              chinon: even your wife claims this to be perception. the guy in the suit could just be high-maintenance.

              yumcha: define bad service.

              my suspicion is lots of women go into the meal defensive, expecting bad service, are curt or short, or making mountains out of mole hills, and it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I thought there was another thread on bad service before, but for me it means:
                Being ignored by the server when asking for drinks/refills
                Getting huffy when I ask a question about something
                Getting noticeably different service than the rest of the customers

                However, I do not go to a meal expecting bad service. I go out expecting to have a good time and enjoy myself. I'm with you on the self-fulfilling prophecy. I HATE going out with other chicks who think so, and ding the server on every little thing that isn't even their fault.

                I am starting to think this is more of a location problem with all servers in my area, since I haven't had the female-bad-service thing happen anywhere else I've eaten, if that makes any sense :p

                1. re: yumcha

                  I took my mom and aunt out for dinner to a nice Philadelphia byob. My aunt ordered coffee. She drank most of it and after a time her remaining coffee got cold. She then asked the waiter for more coffee. He brought her over the coffee pot and poured her more coffee into her cup. My aunt was very disturbed by this because according to her he should have known to bring over a new cup of coffee rather than refilling the cup that she already had. That's being a diva IMHO.

                  1. re: Chinon00

                    I've never seen someone get a new cup of coffee when it's a refill though. I wonder if she has received this service before. I order iced tea when I go out. Sometimes I will get a new glass, but I'm always happily surprised when that happens. Normally, I'm happy if they will remember to give me a piece of lemon or have ice in the refill! My coworkers, managers, and directors have all shaken their heads (in jest, not for real, although I don't know what they are really thinking) when I get my refill. "Oh no, she's going to ask for lemon/cup of ice!" Sometimes someone in the group will observe the situation and just order for me, "Could you bring her more lemon?!" :-) It's usually lunch paid by the company - guaranteed lots of tips.

                    1. re: Chinon00

                      agreed! are they supposed to be psychic or something? she could just as easily have asked them to warm up the remaining coffee. Communication is the key.

              2. I have always felt as a female I got better service. Perhaps I've just been lucky, but I have never had service issues when dining solo and have never felt secondary when dining with a man.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ArikaDawn

                  Here is the thread on service and gender to which folks may be referring. Interesting hypothesis!
                  Perceptions of dining/service issues: The John Fowles vs. Cyndi Lauper hypothesis
                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/411742

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