Who Makes More in Tips? Most Say Women Do

By Kortni Robinson and Nicole Casperson

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Hooters is known for the attractiveness of its waitresses. Image from Hooters.com

Struggling college student Audrey Parisi works weekends at Las Brisas Steakhouse to make ends meet. On Friday nights, Parisi comes in hoping to be assigned as a bar back on the patio, where the men hang out, to get the big bucks in tips.

“I make more as a bar back because I get tipped out a quarter of whatever the bartenders make, and as a server I make my own money,” Parisi said. “It really depends on the type of people who come in that night.”

It’s known that women make only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, but this statistic does not apply to the hospitality industry.

That is not to say that sexism is absent there. Rather, its presence may help female restaurant workers’ earning. Larger breast size, blond hair and relative youth correlate with higher tips for waitresses, shows a study from Cornell University.

Chelsea Wikle, 24, who has worked at Ruby Tequila’s Mexican Kitchen for five years, said women make better tips because men are more inclined to give female servers money as a sign of flirting and showing their dominance.

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Waitresses who wear red tend to make more in tips, shows a study published in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research. Image from Canva.com.

“It’s always a stereotype that guys make more money than girls,” she said. “I think male customers use that to their advantage more than a woman would.”

The same Cornell University study found that male customers may use tips to demonstrate their status and wealth to servers of the opposite sex more often than female customers.

“Guys will tip girls better than women tipping guys because of that aspect,” Wikle said.

Assuming the majority of male customers are heterosexual, waitresses should receive greater tips. Research also shows male customers tend to give larger tips to waitresses who wear red clothing or red lipstick.

At Las Brisas, an elegant steakhouse in Lubbock, Parisi said she doesn’t see many sleazy men, so she doesn’t know whether they tip depending on attractiveness.

But servers on the other side of town think that is indeed the case.

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Ruby Tequila’s Mexican Kitchen located on University Avenue. Nicole Casperson for The Hub@TTU.

Josh Naggar works as a server, bartender and sometimes fills in as manager at Ruby Tequilas by Texas Tech campus. He said he believes women definitely receive better tips from customers.

“Performance always matters,” Naggar said. “However, people tend to be more lenient and accommodating to prettier people. I think it has to do with some psychological reason.”

The Cornell study confirms that women make more tips. Servers earn more if they are attractive females, better service providers, and high self-monitors.

So what if you’re an attractive woman but have an awful personality or do something embarrassing, such as spill a drink on a customer?

Patrick Andis, a shift supervisor at Red Robin, said women can pull this off because they’re better with apologies.

“I believe tips depend on both the performance and the sex of the employee,” Andis said. “If you do a really bad job but you’re an attractive female, you’re more likely to get cut a break. Women are better with the apologies.”

The Cornell study also found that since evening meals tend to be lengthier and used for entertainment purposes, tip averages are higher than at lunchtime.

Parisi said she always makes better tips at dinner or brunch because this is when people are coming in to get drinks.

“I make the most tips on Sunday brunch or weekend nights,” she said. “This is when more customers want to purchase alcoholic beverages.”

This study also found that attractive waitresses earned larger sales-adjusted tips than did less attractive waitresses. Attractiveness had no effects on waiters’ tips.

However, many in the restaurant industry believe there are many more variables to tips than attractiveness. Mackenzie Belz, a waitress at Texas Roadhouse, says it all depends. Listen to her explanation below:

Servers like Michaela O’Donnell, who works at Aspen Creek Grill, said being a woman can actually be a challenge in the restaurant industry.

“When people enter a restaurant they expect to have a male waiter … and aren’t as giving with their money to women,” she said. “Women tend not to tip other women well. I’ve been told before from a family that they won’t tip me because I shouldn’t be waiting on tables, but I have to make rent somehow.”

Performance is key, O’Donnell said.

“I definitely believe performance still matters no matter what you look like,” she said. “The younger crowd may not be as aware of performance during their experience at a restaurant, but the older, more mature customer will notice.”

Jake Holland, a sophomore at Texas Tech who works at Nick’s Sports Bar & Grill, agrees.

“You pretty much just have to be friendly, and you’ll make your tips,” Holland said. “Knowing your regulars and taking care of business will always ensure a good tip also.”

Server Dustin Tawater, 23, who has worked at Ruby Tequila’s for five weeks, is of the same opinion. He said that gender and appearance make a difference, but performance is the most important aspect in receiving large tips.

“We have some very attractive people that work here and make a lot of money,” he said. “But it’s the fact that they are attractive and work really well.”

Tawater said there are people who maybe aren’t considered as attractive but do make a lot of money because they work really hard.

Created by Nicole Casperson

Infographic created by Nicole Casperson

Overall, when it comes to tips, Tawater said, it depends on the table and the customers.

“Middle-aged men may give girls better tips,” he said, “but I’ve made $40 tips from middle-aged men as well, so a lot of that has to do with connecting well with them.”

Sean Leder, 21, who has worked at Ruby Tequila’s since March, also said tips depend on the clientele.

“I would have to say typically a girl makes better tips, especially if she’s good-looking,” Leder said. “But certain people don’t care about looks. If a family comes in, the dad isn’t going to care if the server is good-looking; he’s going to care if his kids’ drinks are filled.”

But Diana Moreno, 22, who has worked at the same restaurant for a little over a month, sais she thinks men make more money at that location because they are more comfortable talking to customers.

“A lot of sorority girls come in here, and if you’re an attractive male, then you’ll make better tips,” she said.

Moreno said both performance and good appearance factor into making more money.

“If two people’s performance level is the same but one person is more attractive, then they will make better tips, every time,” she said.

Frank Salinas, 23, has been a server for over a year but has worked at Ruby Tequila’s for the last two months.

Salinas offered a different take on the question. He believes neither male nor female servers make more because it depends on the person.

“They say maybe females make more money because she is able to persuade the men more, but the male servers can do that as well,” he said. “I don’t think looks or appearance has anything to do with it.”

“I’d say guys usually tip girls better, and girls tip guys better.”

Brittany Lashinski, 22, who has worked at the University Avenue location of Ruby Tequila’s since January, said this topic is the biggest controversy and the servers at the restaurant argue about it often.

“Guys will think just because we have female parts that we always make better tips,” she said. “I think it depends on how good you are as a server and being personable with consumers.”

However, she still believes gender has some influence on tipping.

“I’d say guys usually tip girls better, and girls tip guys better,” Lashinski said.

Ultimately, Tawater said tips at this specific restaurant and location are relatively equal.

“I think it’s dead even,” he said. “I think the girls make just as much as the guys. It has to do with experience and performance, but I do think attractiveness comes into play.”

Kelsee Pitman contributed to this story.

About JOUR 4350

JOUR 4350 is the multiplatform news delivery class, which is the capstone class for journalism majors within the College of Media & Communication.

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