By Kelsee Pitman
Does dressing professionally improve or hurt waiters’ and waitresses’ tips? Callie Davis and Travis Barker, Texas Tech students who work at Orlando’s, agreed to count their tips to help answer that question.
Employees at Orlando’s have to wear jeans, a branded shirt and nonslip shoes. This professional uniform helps level the playing field in terms of appearance.
According to a Cornell University study, “people value the approval of attractive individuals more than that of less attractive individuals, so consumers may tip attractive servers more than unattractive ones.”
With all this in mind, the experiment began on April 28.
That day, Davis worked from 5 to 9 p.m. and earned $90. Barker worked from 5 to 8 p.m. and made $50. To sum it up, Davis worked an hour longer, but also made $40 more.
The following weekend, both worked the same number of hours. Davis made $252 in tips, and Barker made $185.
During the weekend of May 6, Davis made $210, and Barker made $174.
“After seeing the difference … I was shocked,” Davis said. “I always assumed it was just how well you treated the customers, but maybe that is not the case. Either way, I think that people should tip on how well the service was, not by people’s gender.”
Some people believe women get more tips because male customers find them attractive or that they make themselves attractive to earn more tips.
In so-called $2.13 states, including Texas, where servers have to live off tips, the culture of sexual harassment from customers has been found to be especially prevalent.
According to the “Glass Floor” report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, female tipped workers in states with a $2.13 subminimum wage are three times more likely to experience a demand from management to sexualize their behavior than are women in other states.
Added Barker: “In a society where sex sells best, and a generation where men generally pay the tab, girls often receive a higher percentage of their tips rather than guys.”