Presentation Title

Creating a Work-Self Persona; Emotional Labor in the Gendered Occupation of Waitressing

Authors' Names

Sara Razia WozniakFollow

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Category

Social Sciences/Humanities

Abstract/Artist Statement

The purpose of this study was to learn more about emotional labor through a gendered lens. This study provides a unique perspective on emotional labor because it takes place decades after Hochschild coined the term. She used the term to describe when workers manage their emotions in order to fit in with workplace expectations. This study examined the different ways women working as waitresses performed emotional labor. It also examined the emotional effects of this and the ways cultural standards of femininity contributed to it. I used a combination of inductive and deductive codes to analyze interviews from a convenience sample of 17 waitresses. The findings of this study are in line with previous studies on gender, emotional labor, and customer service work. Waitresses have a fluid persona for work which I call the “work-self.” Niceness was also used as a strategy often referred to as “killing them with kindness.” Emotions associated with this included anger, frustration, and internalization of negative interactions. Coping mechanisms include detaching from emotions, developing boundaries, and escapism. Cultural femininity standards affected customer’s expectations of the work self. Waitresses were seen as nurturing figures, sex objects, or servants. The findings suggest that emotional labor and performing femininity are intertwined in the gendered occupation of waitressing. The findings of this study are significant because it shows that expectations placed on women in the workplace have barely changed since Hochschild's study was published. The work that waitresses do and the psychological effects of it are an exaggerated microcosm of what women deal with in society.

Mentor Name

Sara Wozniak

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Creating a Work-Self Persona; Emotional Labor in the Gendered Occupation of Waitressing

The purpose of this study was to learn more about emotional labor through a gendered lens. This study provides a unique perspective on emotional labor because it takes place decades after Hochschild coined the term. She used the term to describe when workers manage their emotions in order to fit in with workplace expectations. This study examined the different ways women working as waitresses performed emotional labor. It also examined the emotional effects of this and the ways cultural standards of femininity contributed to it. I used a combination of inductive and deductive codes to analyze interviews from a convenience sample of 17 waitresses. The findings of this study are in line with previous studies on gender, emotional labor, and customer service work. Waitresses have a fluid persona for work which I call the “work-self.” Niceness was also used as a strategy often referred to as “killing them with kindness.” Emotions associated with this included anger, frustration, and internalization of negative interactions. Coping mechanisms include detaching from emotions, developing boundaries, and escapism. Cultural femininity standards affected customer’s expectations of the work self. Waitresses were seen as nurturing figures, sex objects, or servants. The findings suggest that emotional labor and performing femininity are intertwined in the gendered occupation of waitressing. The findings of this study are significant because it shows that expectations placed on women in the workplace have barely changed since Hochschild's study was published. The work that waitresses do and the psychological effects of it are an exaggerated microcosm of what women deal with in society.