Background Paper StartFragment
Withinthe restaurant industry as a whole, there lies an astonishing amount ofsegregation and hierarchies that occur amongst the staff. It is evident toanyone who has worked or ever dinned at a restaurant that behind the facetiousappearance portrayed by the service staff lays a “structural and interactionalprocess of gender inequality” (LaPoint). The gender and racial division thatcontinues to occur within the restaurant labor force, in many ways seemsarchaic in that it often falls within the perimeter developed by a patriarchaland internal colonialism society.
In the restaurant industry, there is amultitude of jobs, ranging from management to the dishwashers, some of the jobsinclude: waiters, hosts, chefs, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders, bussers, andmanagement. Within each position lies sub-hierarchies. The average salary for most restaurantstaff (floor staff), is minimum wage, plus tips. While kitchen staff tends toearn more income in relation to floor staff they are often tipped a percentageof the floor staff’s weekly tips. Of course, all the salaries range dependingon the location and status of the establishment. The majority of positionsfilled within restaurants require little to no education, with the exception ofkitchen and management staff, which often require basic education from culinaryinstitutes or some form of management training. The other positions ofteninclude minimal onsite training.
StatisticsCanada validated my hypothesis that women outnumber men in the restaurant andfood service sector. In 2005, 6.2% of the Canadian labor force, worked in thisindustry. Women nearly double the amount of men in the service industry. It isalso interesting to note that all work in the service sector (tertiary) wentfrom 35% to between 70-80% since 1911. The United States of America’sdepartment of labor bureau and of labor statistics indicated that men primarilywork in the back of the house as cooks, chefs and food preparation workers. Itindicated that nearly two-thirds of all back house workers are male, whichaccounts for nearly 3.1 million jobs in 2004 (U.S. Department of Labor). Thesestatistics only validate that segregation amongst restaurant workers continuesto occur in a modern society.
Focus One: Gender Division
Genderdivision that occurs within the restaurant industry is not a new phenomenonthat merely sprouted up within the resent decades. Many sociologists would evenconsider the ongoing segregation between the genders in relation to the work tobe a perfect example of gender essentialism or the “horizontal sexsegregation.” Within the restaurant industry men and women are often separatedinto positions based on masculine and feminine characteristics (Macdonald,Cameron Lynne).
Thefirst article I examined in relationship to this subject was: Relationships withWaitresses: Gendered Social Distance in Restaurants Hierarchies Eleanor LaPointe notes that “workspace distinctions by sex … continue to be made between the kitchen and diningroom staff” Often resulting in women waiting tables in the front of the housewhile men predominately work in the back of the house. This creates a newdivide between the sexes, the front of the house is often consider easier workwhile the back is often consider an area of intense work; once again validatingthe masculine/feminine divide. In which men work harder then their femalecounter parts. LaPointe’s hypothesis is also validated with statistics thatindicate that the majority of restaurant staff that work the front of the house(waiting or hosting) are female, while men often work the back (kitchen,bussing or bar).
LaPoint’stheory was corroborated during my preliminary interview with Jerusalem Mehari a22 years old, African-Canadian, female who has worked in the restaurantindustry for six years. Mehari noted that often resumes would be placed indifferent categories depending on the applicant’s sex. Mehari said “guysresumes would immediately be placed in the back or given to the kitchen manager(male), or bar manager, while women’s resumes would be kept up front for thefloor manager to look at.”
Evidence also indicates that genderrole, often plays a large role in the position many of the female and maleworkers, apply for and are offered. Macdonald and Sirianni noted that thedivision of labor in the restaurant industry was most evident in ethnicrestaurants for example: Chinese food, Indian or Greek.
Focus Two: Racial and Ethnic Division
Withinthe restaurant industry labor force, it is evident that racial divisioncontinues to occur. One would even be so bold to apply the division of primaryand secondary jobs, to the category of service staff. In the book TheCocktail Waitress: women’s work in a man’s world , Spradley and Mann found that“work space distinctions by racial/ethnic status continued to be made.” Theynoted that often-white waiters were more likely to be employed in expensiverestaurants where their gratuity would be greater.
The racialdiscrimination was also conformed by Mehari who stated that as anAfrican-Canadian women she often found herself struggling to merely getinterviews at upscale restaurants even though she was just as qualified asanyone else. She noted that she would often come to realize that in mostsituations she would be the only “black” worker hired or working during anyparticular shift, as if “the management didn’t want her blackness to overshadowthat of t