Being Gratuitious | Hackie | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published October 5, 2007 at 4:49 p.m.

A recent comment on the YoHackie blog asked about the differences in tipping between men and women. Here's one cabbie's take on the issue.

Men seem, on average, to tip bigger than women. I ascribe it to a positive attribute of the macho ethic. Throwing around one's money is one way to demonstrate what a big man you are. This is not to deny other, more high-minded motives in big tipping - appreciation, gratitude, and the like, but men do like to demonstrate their "bigness." Hey, big spender . . .

More interesting to me is the different approach to splitting the fare among a same-sex group. The difference here is stark and follows course, in my experience, 98% of the time. Let's posit a group of four men, and then four women, arriving at their destination.

Among the men, inevitably one of the guys will throw me a twenty, saying, "Take it out of this." Often the payment falls to the guy riding shotgun, merely because he's sitting closest to the cabbie. Sometimes, but not always, one or another of the guys will toss him a fiver or a couple of bucks to chip in. But, either way, there's very little, if any discussion, and the whole exchange takes less than a minute.

Contrast this with the group of women. As we come to a stop, all of the them will begin to speak together, precisely computing the tip, adding it to the fare and dividing by four. Often, this is accompanied with, "Well, Jen, you paid for my last drink, so I'll cover your share," or similar accountings. If they can't come up with correct change so each one is paying the exact equal amount, I might be asked to bust a twenty for fives and ones to help facilitate that task. In any event, for women it's evidently crucial that things add up and everyone stays even-Steven.

What explains this phenomenon? My guess is it stems from the whole hunter (men)/gatherer (women) ancient history hard-wired into our brains for the 99% of mankind's existence as we evolved as a species. I hope this doesn't come off as sexist (or, rather, I hope it isn't sexist), but anyone have other explanations?