Pay gap. Glass ceiling. Boys’ club. We hear these terms about many industries, and bartending isn’t exempt. But the similarities don’t end there. Just as in other industries, the ranks of bartenders were emptied out during the two world wars with the men off fighting, and just as in other industries, women stepped in to take their place. Of course, once the men came home, there was a backlash against these liberated libationists, with many states going as far as to make it illegal for women to serve alcohol. These laws were struck down after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, between 1970 and 1980, the number of women bartenders grew 323 percent. Today, 60 percent of bartenders are women.
“I think we’ve come a long way,” says Misty Kalkofen, director of Vino de Mezcal at Del Maguey.
But, according to others, and the data, there’s still more work to be done. Female bartenders earn 72.4 percent of what male bartenders earn, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“In our industry, women are kicking ass,” says Lynnette Marrero, beverage director at Brooklyn’s Llama Inn. “But as women get higher positions, the pay is less equal — that’s mirrored in pretty much every industry.”