Uncovering Gendered Dynamics: A Comparative Analysis of Interactions Between Customers and Service Industry Workers

Elizabeth Truong, Naomi Crandall, Zoe Jespersgaard, Jennifer Ma, Victoria Yu

In contemporary society, coffee shops act as significant social hubs, facilitating interactions between service workers and customers that reflect broader gender dynamics. This research investigates the nuances of gendered interactions within coffee shops, focusing on American college students in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. The study aims to understand how gender influences various aspects of service worker-customer interactions, including word choice, politeness, and conversational patterns. Based on the hypothesis posited, which suggests that female-presenting customers are more likely to exhibit politeness towards service workers compared to their male-presenting counterparts, the research examines data collected through non-participant covert observation and conversation analysis. The findings reveal significant gender differences, with female-presenting individuals demonstrating more polite behaviors such as hedging and the use of politeness markers compared to their male-presenting counterparts. Female-female interactions were characterized by longer discussions and more pleasantries, while male-male interactions tended to be more direct. Overall, the study contributes to our understanding of gender dynamics in public spaces and underscores the importance of recognizing and addressing these dynamics for fostering inclusive environments.

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