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Waiting on Equality: The Role and Impact of Gender in the New York City Restaurant Industry

In 2010, ROC-NY released Waiting on Equality: The Role and Impact of Gender in the New York City Restaurant Industry, an analysis of the barriers that women and LGBT workers race in New York’s restaurant industry.  The research included 530 surveys of restaurant workers, 40 worker interviews, 40 employer interviews, demographic canvassing of 45 fine-dining restaurants, government data analysis, and focus groups of different subsets of women and LGBT workers in the industry.


  • Women of color are largely segregated by segment in the restaurant industry.  38.5% of black women, 33.3% of Asian women, and 44.1% of Latina women surveyed were employed in quick service, indicating an over-representation of women of color in quick service.
  • Women are largely segregated by position.  Men held 67% of Tier I front-of-the-house positions, while women held only 32%.
  • Women are paid 21.8% less than their male counterparts with the same qualifications.   Earnings for women of color are even less, as women of color are paid 28.5% less than their male counterparts.
  • Sexual harassment is rampant within the industry, and many employers fail to adequately respond to complaints of such harassment.
  •  LGBT workers face many of the same issues that women in the industry face.  Additionally, many LGBT restaurant workers reported experiencing harassment and homophobia, as well as pressure to fit stereotypes.

Download the full report here.