Sociology, Department of


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Published in Sex Roles 13: 11/12 (1985), pp. 663–678. Copyright © 1985 Plenum Publishing Corporation. Used by permission.


Job satisfaction for women workers is traditionally researched from the job-gender model in which sex roles generate the research framework. Women employed in the labor market are viewed as responding primarily to the confines of sex roles, as opposed to the structural rewards and constraints of the labor market itself. We reexamined earlier studies that found no effect of the labor market on job satisfaction for women. Reanalysis of the 1972-1973 Quality of Employment national survey revealed significantly different levels of job satisfaction, which are in part structured by the characteristics of the labor market sectors in which women and men work. Women working in labor market sectors that are predominantly male or have a balanced proportion of male and female workers jobs have high job satisfaction. This job satisfaction is predicted almost exclusively by their perceptions of fewer income problems, flexibility of hours, and use of job skills. Factors related to maternity benefits and leaves are related only marginally to job satisfaction for women workers in either labor market sector. Women in predominantly female sectors of the labor market have similarly high job satisfaction scores, but these are related to a wider cluster of factors, including fewer perceived income problems, skills, and challenge factors, as well as the socioemotional rewards of their work. This pattern is most similar to males who work in predominantly male sectors. In contrast, males who work in predominantly female or gender-proportionate jobs have significantly lower job satisfaction scores, even after controlling for income issues and other benefits. Labor market sectors and the rewards available within them are important structural dimensions of job satisfaction for women and men employees.

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