Gender, work control, and stress: a theoretical discussion and an empirical test

Int J Health Serv. 1989;19(4):725-45. doi: 10.2190/5MYW-PGP9-4M72-TPXF.


Within the field of occupational stress research the theoretical orientation, the research instruments, and the populations studied have largely been standardized on and restricted to male subjects. This article discusses the threats that single-sex studies pose to the valid assessment of the health effects of working life. Following this critique, an empirical examination of the differential distribution of work control is examined within a random sample (n = 13,203) of Swedish working males and females. Results indicate that even in a socially progressive society the labor force continues to be highly sex-segregated. Males, as a group, were found to have access to a larger and more diverse set of jobs than do females, as a group. Work control was found to be consistently higher among men than among women. The highest level of control was found among white-collar men in male-segregated jobs, while the lowest was found among blue-collar women in male-segregated jobs. It was notable that men had a higher level of control than women even in jobs that are traditionally considered "women's work." The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of future directions in the psychosocial work environment field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / etiology*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Identification, Psychological*
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Random Allocation
  • Sex Factors
  • Sweden