Promoting Women Part II

(Click here to read Part 1!)

By Catherine Austin Fitts

In the 1970’s I had the honor of being promoted from the only female bartender to bar manager at a lovely French restaurant near the University of Pennsylvania campus, La Terrasse. The entire bartending staff announced a strike, saying they would not work for a woman. The very prescient owner, Elliot Cooke, explained when approached by the strike leaders, that he was not the bar manager, that they should see me as I was the bar manager.

So my first act was to meet with the striking bartenders. I asked them what their objection was to me being the bar manager. They said that I was going to “feminize” the bar. I would require they put out candles, play romantic music and would put a woman on each two-person team on the important shifts.

I explained that they were correct – I was going to do all of those things. However, I was attracting the largest bar gross and tips of all the bartenders – the basis for my promotion. My goal was to help them do the same. If they were not willing to try, I was prepared to teach 10 waiters and waitresses how to replace them at high speed. These were the best jobs in the “house.”

The strike leader quit, his number two – let’s call him Harry – went back to work with a sour face, and the rest did with a smile, adapting to the changes at high speed.

Two months later, a female bartender got sick at the last minute on a Thursday evening (the best nightly gross of the week) and I had to replace her with a man as the second bartender working with Harry.

In short order, Harry came screaming to see me in the wine cellar where I was preparing an order, loudly complaining that having two men on the bar would significantly reduce his tips. Why could I not find a woman? While I found this amusing, he failed to see the humor in the situation.

Indeed, he was right to be upset. What we had discovered with a careful tracking of sexual pairings on the bar was as follows.

• With two male bartenders, the house made $1Xand the bartenders made 10% of that.

• With two female bartenders, the house made $1.5X and the bartenders made 10% of that.

• With a male and female bartender, the house made $2X and the bartenders made 10% of that.

Which is to say that my putting Harry on the bar with another man was going to cut his tips for the evening in half.

The extraordinary importance of sexual pairing to bar restaurant profits got me to thinking a great deal about men and women and the magic between them. I then went to business school, and then to Wall Street, rising up to be the first woman partner at an investment bank. I walked into my first board meeting. There were 45 men in dark suits and me – wearing red silk. One of my first thoughts was my first day as bar manager speaking with the striking bartenders and appealing to their profit motives.

It was, not, however, until I started my own investment bank that I was to price out the relationship between boy and girl bankers and financial transactions.

Stay tuned for Part 3!

Related Reading:

Promoting Women Part IV

Promoting Women Part III

Promoting Women Part I


  1. I will stay tuned for Part 3! Love this stuff!! And what I’ve found out in the last couple of years is: If you read any ancient texts about astronomical and astrological cycles, you’ll find that there has been a return (as of Dec. 21, 2012) to the Goddess energy… for women and for men… so: it is all about restoring the feminine energy to the planet and to groups and to businesses and to the individual… to both men and women……………ALSO.. I think this is related…somehow… Watch the movie “20 Feet From Stardom” which is all about all these talented women (most of them African American) who have been working as background singers for decades and ‘never hit it big’ themselves as headliners….but they are amazing… and they do it all…. “The general population” doesn’t have a clue who they are but clearly the male singing groups would be nothing without them. Thanks Catherine for writing about “the magic of feminine energy….” which is I think what it is…

  2. During the 1970’s I was in my 20’s and started a sign-painting business. The most lucrative jobs were painting boats – the names and cartooning on the transoms. None of the boat yards would allow a woman in. But if you owned a boat, you could bring in any private contractor you wished. Some of the business owners I’d lettered trucks for wanted me to letter their boats. Once in the boat yard and painting, I attracted a lot of attention, and male boat owners liked my work and hired me to paint their boats. I was the only female worker there. I did so many boats that the owner of the marina finally put me on the payroll to paint the names on all the new vessels he sold. It was win-win for several years.

  3. I would like to see country’s led by a combination of a man and a woman.

    If it is what works for families, in almost all species, then surely it should be how society is also run?

  4. Awesome. I’m on vacation in Costa Rica now living right beside the bar that my best friend in university has owned with her husband for 22 years.

    I showed her this article and she totally agreed!

    I have found a similar things happen in spiritual circles when a new couple joins the group which has been dominated by women. The sparks fly and the gender bias is in reverse. However, they have now come to accept that we are together and the group is growing stronger and more balanced day by day.

    Karen M from Canada

Leave a Reply