Lack of gender bias in job evaluation in hotels and restaurants

Portugal’s hotels and restaurants sector is the first sector in the country to develop a job evaluation method free from gender bias. A partnership comprising employee and employer representatives, state public bodies and researchers developed the methodology, which is able to compare the value of occupations mainly occupied by men and by women. The methodology also allows for an evaluation of whether the existing gender pay gap results from gender prejudice and stereotypes.

About the project

A recent project, entitled ‘Revalue work to promote gender equality’ (Revalorizar o Trabalho para Promover a Igualdade), was funded by the EQUAL Community Initiative and coordinated by the General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers (Confederação Geral dos Trabalhadores Portugueses – Intersindical, CGTP-IN). The project developed a job evaluation method that is free from gender bias in Portugal’s hotels and restaurants sector, although more specifically in restaurants and beverage establishments.

The project partners comprised: CGTP-IN; the Portuguese Federation of Agriculture, Food, Beverage, Hotels and Tourism Trade Unions (Federação dos Sindicatos da Agricultura, Alimentação, Bebidas, Hotelaria e Turismo de Portugal, FESAHT); the Portuguese Association of Hotels, Restaurants and Similar Establishments (Associação da Hotelaria, Restauração e Similares de Portugal, AHRESP); the Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment (Comissão para a Igualdade no Trabalho e no Emprego, CITE); the Working Conditions Authority (Autoridade para as Condições de Trabalho, ACT); the International Labour Organization (ILO); and the Social Intervention Research Centre (Centro de Estudos para a Intervenção Social, CESIS). The project also received technical assistance from the ILO as well as from a Canadian expert researcher.

The evaluation allows for an assessment of whether occupations in this sector are valued in a fair way – that is, if workers are paid according to their job tasks, free from any bias based on their gender. This method reinforces the principle of ‘equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value’ as set out in ILO Convention No. 100.

Gender inequality in hotels and restaurants

In 2005, when the project ‘Revalue work to promote gender equality’ started, FESAHT was concerned about working conditions in the hotels and restaurants sector. The sector was characterised by a predominance of female workers in typical female occupations, such as cook and catering assistants, which are less qualified and lower paid than other typically male occupations. In 2004, female workers in restaurant and beverage establishments earned about 91% of the wage of their male counterparts.

Job evaluation method

Given the diversity in types of job evaluation methods, the project organisers opted for the development of an analytical method which allows for systematically examining, evaluating and comparing every job in an organisation, using common, precise and detailed criteria. Because of the criteria, this ‘point method’ is frequently recognised as being the most appropriate tool for evaluating gender equality. More precisely, it is the best method for identifying and eliminating the influence of gender-based prejudice and stereotypes when determining the pay of men and women.

Some of the main functions of this method include the following:

  • comparing predominantly female occupations with predominantly male occupations;
  • comparing work of equal value and unequal work;
  • focusing on the job content and not on a person’s characteristics, particularly if the job is held by a man or a woman;
  • making visible the usually hidden job demands – these demands are not taken into account in the tasks description;
  • creating a measure – through points attributed to factors and subfactors – to assess the fair value of an occupation.

Defining job evaluation method

In order to collect relevant information for the construction of the job evaluation method, a questionnaire was circulated to 25 restaurants and beverage establishments, covering a total of 79 jobs. The workers in these jobs were also observed during working hours (see table below). The questionnaire sought to gather information about the content of each job and focused on four factors: qualifications, efforts, responsibility and working conditions. The observation process was used to complete the information obtained through the questionnaire, particularly in cases where job requirements are difficult to explain. Based on the data collected, the social partners discussed the points attributed to each factor and subfactor, from a total of 1,000. The definitive framework allowing for a comparison of different occupations was agreed on by the social partners.

Number of observations, by occupation and gender
Gender Occupation No. of observations
Predominantly men Catering manager/director 7
Head chef 4
Pastry chef 5
Pastry cook 5
Waiter 18
  Subtotal 39
Predominantly women Cook 12
Counter service assistant 10
Catering assistant 18
  Subtotal 40
Total 79

Source: CGTP-IN et al, Valor do Trabalho e Igualdade de Género, 2008

Benefits of initiative

In addition, the social partners concluded that, through the in-depth analysis of job characteristics and demands, this method also contributes to improving human resources management practices in terms of recruitment, vocational training, performance evaluation, pay, as well as health and security at work. Since the method presupposes the active participation of the social partners, it also encourages collective bargaining and social dialogue.


CGTP-IN et al, Valor do Trabalho e Igualdade de Género – Guia para a aplicação de uma metodologia de avaliação do valor do trabalho sem enviesamento de género [Value of work and gender equality – Guide to applying a methodology for assessing the value of work free from gender bias], Lisbon, November 2008, available online at:

Heloísa Perista and Jorge Cabrita, CESIS

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