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The Gender Difference in Waiting


Techniques > Tipping > Articles > The Gender Difference in Waiting

Female servers | Male servers | See also


Is there are difference between what waiters and waitresses should do to get tips? You bet.

Female servers

Women who wait table generally have the upper hand when it comes to ways of getting tips, especially if they are attractive. They can flirt with the men and be chummy with the women and generally get away with more.

Touching the customer, for example, lightly on the shoulder or hand, works a treat, as does drawing a happy face on the check.

Women can be cheesier and more overtly sexual, particularly with the opposite sex. Sadly, perhaps, but attractiveness works, at least for men who receive flattering attention from attractive female servers.

Women are more likely to accept menu tips from women who are similar to them. Hence larger women will take suggestions from larger waitresses. And larger meals give larger percentages and larger tips, of course.

Male servers

Men have it harder, as anything that may be construed as flirting with a female customer is likely to make the person unhappy and therefore likely to give a lower tip.

Another problem is that male customers are better tippers overall, but only to female servers. Female customers may like you, but are just poorer tippers.

A reason for this is that waiting table is a lower status job. You are, literally, a servant. Women are generally drawn to powerful men, largely because of evolutionary forces that make them seek men who can protect and feed them and their children.

Men touching men is usually a no-no, as inter-male contact is either power play ('I am more powerful than you and can break the rules') or evokes homo-erotic fears. The status thing continues in many ways.

One way a male waiter can make himself look more powerful is to appear to be the boss. This will work better with women. With men, it may be better just to accept you lowly position and be politely obsequious.

See also

Be the Boss, Draw a Happy Face, Touch Them


Lynn, M. and Simons, T. (2000). Predictors of Male and Female Servers’ Average Tip Earnings, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 2, 241-252


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