Gender bias in customer evaluations of service quality: an empirical investigation

Robin L. Snipes (D. Abbott Turner College of Business, Columbus State University, Columbus, Georgia, USA)
Neal F. Thomson (D. Abbott Turner College of Business, Columbus State University, Columbus, Georgia, USA)
Sharon L. Oswald (College of Business, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Publication date: 1 June 2006



The presence of gender biases in performance evaluations has been previously demonstrated in a number of studies. This study aims to extend current research by examining gender differences in customer ratings of service performance. A secondary research objective of this study is to investigate gender differences in perceptions of service fairness.


Using the SERVQUAL scale to measure service quality perceptions, responses from a sample of 8,667 customers are examined in a hierarchical regression analysis to determine if gender biases are present.


The results of this study show that biases exist in service quality evaluations. Specifically, the data show that male service providers will receive higher service quality ratings than female service providers. However, the gender bias seems to diminish when service fairness is considered. It appears that customer perceptions of fair treatment are far more powerful and important determinants of overall satisfaction than the gender of the service provider. Customers expect justice in regards to fair service delivery. Interestingly, a significant difference appears to exist between males and females in their perceptions of service fairness. Males tend to rate the fairness of service encounters higher than females.

Research limitations/implications

This research looked at only one service industry, that of higher education. As with any other study utilizing one industry, this study should be replicated to provide validation across all industries.


The paper offers new insights into gender bias in customer evaluations of service quality.



Snipes, R., Thomson, N. and Oswald, S. (2006), "Gender bias in customer evaluations of service quality: an empirical investigation", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 274-284.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.