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If you ask people who work in the service industry whether men or women make better tips, you’re likely to get a variety of answers.
‘Men’, ‘other people who work in the service industry’ and ‘smokers’ was one of the responses to this question recently posted on social media.
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“When I was younger I would have said men because men just make more than women,” said Amee Shepard, who worked as a bartender in Seattle for more than a decade before quitting during the pandemic. “But really, that’s not true. It just depends on a lot of different things.”
According to data from a recent survey conducted by GOBankingRates in partnership with PureSpectrum, Shepard turns out to be fundamentally correct.
When it comes to tipping, there really isn’t much of a difference between men and women. However, habits may be more nuanced depending on the circumstances and the service being provided.
Take a closer look at how tips are divided between men and women.
How much do men and women tip?
When service is good, 42% of women and 40% of men say they tip the usual 20%. Slightly more men – 28% – said they tip 25% or more for good service compared to 26% of women.
When it comes to poor service, both men and women tend to either tip 20% or send a message by tipping very little. 28% of women and 27% of men said they tip 20%. Twenty-eight percent of men and women said they tip 10% or less.
The next largest segment of respondents – 21% of women and 23% of men – reduced their tip to 15% for poor service. Eight percent of women and 7 percent of men tip 18 percent. And some don’t tip at all. 16 percent of women and men said they don’t tip if the service is bad.
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Elaine Swann, a San Diego etiquette expert, said she didn’t expect there to be much of a difference in how men and women tip. But she isn’t surprised by a difference in perception.
“People would probably assume that men tip more because we in society recognize that men tend to get paid more than women, so they might have more money to tip,” she said. “However, if we dig a little deeper, for women, we have this empathetic gene in us that recognizes people are of service to us, and we make sure to show our gratitude.”
Patricia Rossi, a Florida-based etiquette expert, said that tipping at least 20% is appropriate even when service is poor.
“They were already prepared for this, and it affects the whole line,” she said, adding that many restaurants and service providers split tips equally between wait staff and kitchen staff. “Just because someone hasn’t done their best doesn’t mean it should affect someone else. I just hurl lots of sunshine instead of shame. Especially today, given what everyone in the service industry has been through, people work so hard and they deserve it.”
But do both regularly tip all workers?
Men and women were also asked which service providers they regularly tip.
The survey results showed that waiters and bartenders in restaurants may not see a significant difference between gender and tips. The numbers have been mostly consistent when it comes to tipping restaurant waiters, with 95% of men and women tipping these workers regularly. The proportion of respondents who regularly tip bartenders was significantly lower, but still about the same, at 58% for women and 57% for men.
In other sectors of the service industry, men reported regularly tipping between 3 and 6 percentage points more than women. This segment included taxi and ridesharing drivers, valet drivers, bellhops, hotel housekeeping and room service.
The biggest difference in habits between women and men was among spa and salon workers. 60% of women said they regularly tip for salon and spa services, but only 34% of men did.
Swann attributes this difference to the fact that hairdressing services for women are typically more expensive than those for men. “When men go to the hairdresser, they can be in and out in 20 minutes. The effort that goes into it doesn’t feel that heavy, and they may or may not tip,” Swann said.
What the etiquette dictates doesn’t matter. “Whether you’re going to a barber or a nice salon, you should always tip your provider,” Swann said.
What about splitting the check?
Men and women also showed different habits when it came to how they split the check when dining out with a large group.
43% of women said they split the check based on what each person orders, compared to 38% of men. Swann attributes this to women’s tendency to be strong communicators.
“Having that conversation is a challenging position for a lot of people when eating out. Men don’t want trouble,” she said. “But I definitely see the difference here in that women can communicate a little more effectively.”
Forty-two percent of women and 41 percent of men said they split the check evenly regardless of what everyone ordered. However, a larger number of men said they would foot the bill for everyone’s meal. Twenty percent of men said they take turns covering the entire check, compared to 16 percent of women.
What makes the most sense?
Rossi said the best approach is to split it up evenly, both for your table attendants and your waiter. “You don’t want to run your server to death and bring ten different checks,” she said. “If someone has one more appetizer or drink, who cares? I’m just trying to honor respect so you’re not picky about your friends.”
And if someone picks up the whole check, Rossi said, “Just make sure you bring it back and do it next time.”
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