Saturday, November 03, 2007

Discrimination against women ... coffee shops:

... [M]en get their coffee 20 seconds earlier than women. (There is also evidence that black people wait longer than white people, the young wait longer than the old, and the ugly wait longer than the beautiful. But these effects are statistically not as persuasive.)

Perhaps, says the sceptic, this is because women order froufrou drinks? Up to a point. The researchers found that men are more likely to order simpler drinks. Yet comparing fancy-drink-ordering men with fancy-drink-ordering women, the longer wait for women remained.

It is also hard to attribute the following finding to a female preference for wet-skinny-soya-machiatto with low carb marshmallows: the delays facing women were longer when the coffee shop staff was all-male, and almost vanished when the serving staff were all-female.

It is not clear whether women were held up by male staff because the men viewed them with contempt, or because male staff flirted furiously. The “contempt” explanation seems more likely, as the extra time that women wait seems to increase when the coffee shop is busy. Who would take extra time out to flirt just when the lines are longer?

Tim Harford's column is here. He has more background information at his blog.

Update: Harford has a follow-up post with a response from the study's lead author [Thanks to Sharath Rao for the link].


  1. Patrix said...

    If I was a barista, I would make the beautiful wait longer than the ugly :)

  2. Jai_Choorakkot said...

    I'd think it was flirting, or just the desire to be in the company of the opposite sex in whatever way possible as long as possible.

    Women dont quite have this problem, if they did, you'd find similar delays at counters served by women, for male customers.

    And to scale a 20-sec delay all the way to "contempt of the male server" is... wow!

    On 2nd thoughts, its probably an indicator of social progress if thats all they can come up with:
    (he made me wait for my coffee, sniff!)

    I wish we soon reach this point, contempt in such trifling stuff, rather than the serious harassment scenario here today.


  3. Sharath said...

    Follow up post by the author of the study.