The Feminine Touch Is Taking Over
PERTH’S barmen are a gradually disappearing race with the majority of city hotels employing a greater number of barmaids.
There are not many unions which can claim the same wages for a woman as for a man, but in this occupation a worker, regardless of sex, receives £13/16/6 a week. This wage perhaps, is not so inviting to a man, but it is attractive to a woman. Maybe she has children or a sick husband to support or is even trying to push Junior through with his studies.
The job is not easy. You have to serve different people with various ideas, to mix a drink for the uppercrust, to listen to incoherent disputes sometimes in a smoky atmosphere where a radio announcer may be excitedly describing the races — but the customer must always be right.
Biggest drawback in this work is broken shifts, which mean that bartenders may work 4 to 5 nights a week. But in spite of these difficulties, barmaids are doing a good job. Probably it is because of women’s natural flair for housekeeping that they keep their bars and fittings so clean and neat. On this point, of course, you will find the barman who is proud of his job and his bar, will challenge any woman to equal him in service or tidiness.
There are still stewards in the lounge bars and there is one good explanation for this. When closing time comes there are always a few merry customers who are trying to get served after hours. The barmaid’s gentle approach might not be persuasive enough and the argument could finish in unpleasantness.
The advantages of working in a hotel seem to far outweigh the disadvantages as far as women are concerned. Some hotel proprietors tell you that women are versatile and adaptable. A woman’s natural aptitude for quantities gained in the preparation of recipes in her own kitchen often stands her In good stead as a barmaid. Most woman barmaids be come very proficient in mixing drinks and they value the customers’ appreciation.
This is one job, too, where a pleasant face and a friendly manner go further with drinkers than glamor of the Marilyn Monroe type. Women bartenders have also indirectly had an effect on bar behavior. Most men will guard their language more when there is a woman present, and a barmaid’s intuition has often averted a fight.
Most hotel owners by custom allow a certain number of drinks to their bartenders and here again women are found to be more economical to employ than men. Few of them indulge in much drinking when ‘on the Job.’
City hotel owners who are employing women in their bars find their bars always bright and shining tables and floors spotless and sloppy counters a thing of the past. Often, however, suburban hotels find that men are better for controlling the bar. Some of them employ barmaids in their lounges, but as a general rule women bartenders are found more often in city than in suburban hotels.
Some drinkers prefer a man behind the bar and there is no doubt that Perth’s barmen have given—and are giving— very good service. They are, however, becoming fewer and fewer.
And how do men and women get along together in a hotel? Women and men have shown they can work In the same hotel In harmony. One city barman said: “I am glad to be working with barmaids— they are cheerful, conscientious and easy to get along with.”
-Perth Mirror Saturday 20 November 1954
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