Playing the Game: Work Experience of Women Card Dealers in a California Casino

This research focused on how women card dealers made meaning of their work in a California card room casino. Ethnography and 10 qualitative open-ended, semi-structured interviews were utilized to understand the gendered and sexualized nature of work in the card room. The card room in this study was a male dominated space where traditional gender norms are fully emphasized. The female card dealers emphasized their beauty and other hetero-normative interactions with card players to generate tips. However, this gendered game had challenges for the participants, such as when the management did not protect their safety or personal space with overly aggressive customers. This study found that emotion work is a large part of how the women gain, keep, and negotiate power within this industry. The research is a micro-analysis of the larger societal problems that are related to our society from inequality of the work place, patriarchy, gender stereotypes, women as objects, and violence against women.