Service of Can You Believe This Still Happens? Women Treated Like Second Class Citizens in Restaurants

September 7th, 2023

Categories: Discrimination, Reservations, Restaurant, Service

After all the work to secure–and publicity to foster–gender neutrality in the workplace you’d think that some of the fairy dust would have landed in restaurant culture in a city like New York. Apparently, it hasn’t.

A friend who eats out three to five times a week brought to my attention something I’ve noticed on occasion: Women are still treated like second-class citizens in some restaurants.

Just as we were finishing our delicious meal last week, we told the waiter we wanted to bring home what we couldn’t eat. We subsequently overheard a man at an adjacent table say the same thing. We were handed containers to fill with our leftovers. His plate was taken away and the unfinished food was placed in a container–and in a shopping bag–for him.

Ironically, my friend had just shared her experience at a restaurant last week where she was meeting friends—all women. They were ushered to a terrible spot and they asked for another table. Two seats at the second table faced a giant, ugly blank wall. They asked for a third. The host was annoyed and told them—when they asked–that the better tables were for people with reservations. My friend piped up, “I have a reservation!” This doesn’t happen when she’s with her husband.

I had the same experience years ago at a restaurant I’d frequented often with my husband—and never returned after being seated in Siberia next to the bathrooms when celebrating a friend’s birthday without him. I thought we were over this discrimination against female customers behavior especially now that so many of us have expense accounts.

Is such bias a thing of the past where you live or eat or is it alive and thriving?

10 Responses to “Service of Can You Believe This Still Happens? Women Treated Like Second Class Citizens in Restaurants”

  1. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: Good question!

  2. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Thankfully I haven’t experienced such behavior– that I’ve noticed. As for “women also have expense accounts,” no way host/hostess would have any idea or frankly care. Lastly, I prefer to fill my own to go container. That way I know no one has potentially tampered with it. Perhaps I’m too cynical, but works for me.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I think restauranteurs have a nose for which of their clients are there with a client[s] or colleague and which are pals having lunch or dinner. Where tips are involved, I would imagine that all the staff cares.

    As for who packages leftovers, waitstaff might ask what the customer prefers.

  4. BC Said:

    Honestly, I do not feel this discrimination in my Fl. Town.

  5. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:

    I hear ya! Some of those bathrooms in Siberia can be pretty rudibleedingmentary once you get too far East of Novosibirsk. It is as if they don’t care! I remember holding it in for days on end looking for somewhere 2p on the Great Baikal Trail and there are NEVER any friendly Park Rangers to help.

    I didn’t recognise the picture? Was it Masha’s Chop House in Nizhny Novgorod? Technically that isn’t in Siberia proper? Are you sure you were in the right place?

  6. Lucrezia Said:

    Treating a customer poorly is bad business and is often followed by costly consequences. However, it’s up to the mistreated party to remonstrate and bring the offender to heel. Respect must be earned. Showing consideration for and respect to an often abused wait staff helps. A healthy tip for good service works even better! Do I practice what I just preached? You bet – That’s why I enjoy eating out!

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What can I say?

    Speaking of Siberia, I found discrimination against old citizens in expensive NYC restaurants when my mother was alive disconcerting and sad especially at places filled with late middle agers. I let one such place hear from me the next day—I didn’t want to make a fuss with mom there. We never returned and the place went belly up not long after. It had been a place we’d frequented often before.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I don’t want to fight or face confrontation when I go out to eat. I fight with my feet and don’t return. It hasn’t happened lately or often but in my far past I’ve walked out.

  9. Martha T Takayama Said:

    I have not seen ANY evidence of discriminatory, shabby, shameful, rude treatment towards women becoming extinct! I find it incomprehensible and economically incredibly foolish. I can’t foresee it changing in the near future!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I wish I could disagree with you.

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