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Women Seek Bartending Jobs in Cuba As Tourism Industry Grows

Cuban bartender Barbara Betancourt Bernal pours a daiquiri at a bar in Havana, Aug. 27, 2018.

For years, Barbara Betancourt has left her two teenage daughters at home and put on black pants and a white shirt to go to the bar.

She is the face of an increasingly visible phenomenon in Cuba: the rise in female bartenders who break convention to benefit from the growing tourism industry.

“You have to be a strong woman. With a strong character. You can't be weak or have a husband who says, ‘You can't do it,’” she says as she whips a silver shaker.

But female bartenders are still struggling to gain more ground on the island.

Fewer than six women were contenders at The Pan-American Bartenders competition held at the end of August in Havana.