Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"Remember Ladies - You’re Doing it for Science!"

So says the gentleman at Waiter Rant, urging his female food service readers to participate in a little survey designed by Michael Lynn of Cornell University. Be glad I only borrowed the good waiter's closing sentence and not his post title, which is almost as rank as some of the survey questions:

14) How big around is your waist? Use a tape measure to find the distance around the smallest area of your waist - usually just above your belly button. Be sure the tape is snug but does not pinch or push in your skin. Stand normally -- do NOT suck in your belly.


15) Was the waist measurement above:

based on memory
based on a guess
based on a tape measurement over clothes
based on a tape measurement on bare skin

16) How big around are your hips? Use a tape measure to find the distance around the largest area of your hips -- usually the widest part of the buttocks. Be sure the tape is snug but does not pinch or push in your skin.


17) Was the hip mesurement above:

based on memory
based on a guess
based on a tape measurement over clothes
based on a tape measurement on bare skin (or underwear)

18) What is your bra size?

For the life of me, I cannot see the point of gathering this data. Were I feeling cynical, I might surmise that if the results were to show that sexier waitresses earn more in tips, one conclusion might be something like, ". . . and that's why women have the real competitive advantage in the service industry!" (Hereafter this will be referred to as The John Hawkins "Cheer Up, Ladies" Principle.) If instead the results were to demonstrate the opposite, the conclusion might be that therefore there is no sexism in the food service industry ever, because look how well customers tolerate the uglies!

Thank heavens, then, that I remain as blissful and wondering as I was the day I first came into the world, and am categorically not a cynic.

Anyway: Am I just not imaginative enough to work out a useful purpose for asking these questions? John? Moebius?


Kyle said...

I recall hearing that women were generally able to guess the measurements of a manequin but not themselves in a mirror. They more often saw themselves as larger than they actually were. When I skimmed this post initially, I thought it was a repeat of that experiment. Even the second time through, I thought it could be the same thing with the waitressing business as a distraction, but now I realize I'm just totally off-topic. There's probably some remark to be made here about seeing what one is familiar with rather than what one is looking at, but I leave that as an exercise to the reader.

Gower, Voice of Reason said...

People tip based on service, not looks.

There's a fraction of men dumb enough to tip based on looks but they're going to be outweighed by most male diners, by couples dining, by women dining, etc...

Anonymous said...

I dunno why, when I see "estimate weight" and "measurement" and I curl up in a fetal position around a box of laxatives. All I noticed is Waiter Rant has a commenter called "Rob the Pedant", and to me? That's when one has arrived, when one has a Rob the Pedant.


John said...

I can see lots of purposes for collecting this kind of information, and Ilyka hit on the big 2. The survey is not well designed, though, and I hope it's not going to count towards someone's Master's thesis.

The main problem I have with the survey is that a lot of questions that would be used to rate the quality of tips received are self-reported and subject to observer bias, i.e. question # 8. The survey is worthless except to help someone design a longer, better survey.

I have a feeling it's looking for bias, given the questions. Question # 9 is pretty good, because some uniforms hide the figure, and if there truly is tip bias, I'd say that would be a confounding variable.

But, for once, Gower is pretty close here. Everyone has a set of criteria they rate on when they tip, and service usually weights pretty high. What this does not look at, and what I'd think would be the most likely form bias would take, is how looks relate to tips when service is the same, but the servers vary in attractiveness. I bet that a really good server who is also attractive gets better tips from some men than a plain server who is just as attentive, but the correlation coefficient won't be huge because not all men are pigs, most women won't care, and some sexist pigs are also cheapskates. I bet that the very good server with plain looks will still net out a lot better than an attractive server who is a lousy waitress.

In any case, I bet this survey completely misses whatever is really going on.

Gower, Voice of Reason said...

any thoughts on


or just more silence.

ilyka said...

any thoughts on

Yes--what Chris Clarke said.

Incidentally, you can search "Wonkette" for my opinion on that enterprise. You seem to have it in your head that I'm a fan. I am not.

Gower, Voice of Reason said...

Glad to see you're as passionate about this as you were about the Jessica case.

belledame222 said...

You know, that doesn't sound at *all* like "Melancholy Baby."

I simply don't know what's become of the state of entertainment these days.

Gower, Voice of Reason said...

what's that the sound of again, oh yes hypocrisy

when a conservative female blogger makes a snide remark about a female liberal blogger there's a ton of outrage

when a liberal male blogger calls a conservative female blogger a slut and brandishes what he calls a half-naked photo of her to prove his point that turns out to be a photoshop, there's a yawning silence... because that of course is not about the male patriarchy putting a woman in her place

as usual feminist ideals only apply to women on your side of aisle, and like all the other liberal ideals that claim to defend any minority...that only applies to minorities on the liberal side of the aisle, the women, blacks, gays who aren't, there's open season on them

Gower, Voice of Reason said...

Oh but let's focus on the much more crucial issue of some guy running a web poll for waitresses