Ladies First? A Field Study of Discrimination in Coffee Shops
Despite anecdotal and survey evidence suggesting the presence of discrimination against customers in stores, restaurants and other small-transaction consumer markets, few studies exist that identify or quantify the nature of any unequal treatment. We provide evidence from a field study of wait times in Boston-area coffee shops that suggests that female customers wait an average of 20 seconds longer for their orders than do male customers even when controlling for gender differences in orders. We find that this differential in wait times is inverse to the proportion of employees who are female and directly related to how busy the coffee shop is at the time of the order. This supports the conclusion that the observed differential is driven at least in part by employee animus and/or statistical discrimination rather than unobserved heterogeneity in the purchasing behaviour of female customers.
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