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Waitering/Waitressing: Engendering the Work of Table Servers

Elaine J. Hall
Gender and Society
Vol. 7, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 329-346
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/189797
Page Count: 18
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Waitering/Waitressing: Engendering the Work of Table Servers
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Abstract

Work organizations construct gender relations by two mechanisms. First, they allocate men and women to different positions. Instead of the traditional pattern of firm-specific segregation of waiters and waitresses, quantitative data show that most restaurants in this study have integrated wait staffs. Second, work organizations define job performances in gender terms. Qualitative data from five illustrative restaurants show that male and female servers in integrated staffs "do gender" by performing gendered service styles. Even when men and women are coservers, job titles and dress codes suggest that providing service in a fine dining restaurant is waitering, whereas serving in a coffee shop is waitressing. Focusing on gendered styles of services expands our definition of gender and has serious implications for efforts to achieve occupational integration.

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