Thursday, November 15, 2007
Coffee Shops and Women
Over at Slate is commentary on a study (PDF) of several Boston-area coffee shops which concludes that women have to wait about 20 seconds longer for their orders than do men, even when their tendency to place more elaborate orders is accounted for. (But a hump at nearly 200 seconds in their graph of wait times for females with "fancy orders" makes me wonder about this.)
The commentator at Slate, although he admits that the study is unclear as to whether this difference is due to male employees flirting with female customers or because they feel "contempt" for them, thinks that the difference is more likely due to "contempt".
From the study, another possible explanation arises for the increased wait times: A general impression that men tip more than women. This would easily account for the fact that longer wait times for women remain even when the shops are busy.
The study also suffers in translation from academic discussion to popular journalism because it defines "discrimination against" strictly in terms of the added time cost for female customers. This will easily lead most people into the "contempt" explanation when in fact wait times can increase for two completely different reasons: (1) male employees will spend more time interacting with women they feel an attraction for, but (2) they'll speed things up for that rich-looking guy who seems like he's in a hurry and will show appreciation for better service by leaving a nice tip. (Furthermore, I suspect that with the definition of "attractiveness" the study used, that the perceived likelihood of leaving a good tip drops with lower "attractiveness".)
The study admits to being small, but I think it also suffers from the fact that there are too many variables at work to conclude that there is discrimination against women, even by the study's rather more delimited than common definition.
But I still think that Starbuck's discriminates against good coffee! You shouldn't need to throw a stinking sundae into your cup in order to cover up the burnt taste....
Boy! Just when the phrase "Generation X" had finally lost its ability to annoy me, the media cook up a term even better for the purpose....
Mostly, this is the typical smarmy MSM piece that comes out when some aging journalist looks up from his typewriter long enough to notice that some of the kids he last saw in diapers are now joining the work force and decides to deal with it by pigeonholing all of them. Furthermore, elders have worried that the younger generation doesn't quite have what it takes to carry on since ancient times.
But not all such worries stem from the normal concern of elders for the young. Some can come from manifestations of bad cultural trends. For example, this one bothers me:
They were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think your business-as-usual ethic is for the birds. And if you persist in the belief you can, take your job and shove it.And lots of "them" went to schools like Duke University and the University of Delaware. To top it all off, the same baby boomers who caused the sense of entitlement so many young people seem now to feel are catering to it rather than letting the School of Hard Knocks recalibrate those who need it:
[C]orporate America is so unnerved by all this that companies like Merrill Lynch, Ernst & Young, Disney and scores of others are hiring consultants to teach them how to deal with this generation that only takes "yes" for an answer.Some hand-wringing by the elders will always occur, but it will increase when the results of a failure to transmit the culture start becoming evident. Morley Safer's generation seems intent on consummating its failure to transmit.
The Greenspeak Dictionary
Over at NRO is a short list of green euphemisms for greater government control of the economy that imply that the environmentalist agenda is compatible with capitalism:
In Michigan: Consumer Choice Coalition Director Barry Cargill, who represents a consortium of business, government, and green groups, says "the evidence is clear that competition is the best way to encourage renewable power for our future electric needs."Well! I'm glad that somebody else has started to notice such things. Too bad conservatives do exactly the same thing when they see a chance to control the economy!
But . . . the CCC is calling for passage of a Renewable Energy Standard that would require all electricity providers to obtain 10-percent of their electricity from renewables by 2015.