For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Women and Work: The Psychological Effects of Occupational Conditions"

by Miller, Joanne; Schooler, Carmi; Kohn, Melvin L; Miller, Karen A (1979)


For employed women, job conditions that encourage self-direction are related to effective intellectual functioning and an open, flexible orientation to others, while those tha constrain opportunities for self direction are related to ineffective intellectual functioning and a rigid social orientation. Moreover, several types of job pressures and uncertainties are related to less effective intellectual functioning, unfavorable evaluations of self, or a rigid social orientation. These relationships do not result from social selection, pay, status, or social circumstances and personal preferences, and they are of magnitudes similar to those for men. Causal analysis demonstrates that job conditions not only correlate with but actually affect psychological functioning. For women, as for men, occupational conditions have a decided psychological impact.

Key Passage

Our hypothesis is that women's job conditions are substantially related to their psychological functioning. In particular, we hypothesize that job con- ditions offering challenge and opportunity for self-direction will be related to favorable self-conceptions, flexible social orientations, and effective intellectual functioning, while job conditions subjecting women to pressure or uncertainty or constraining their opportunities for self-direction will be re- lated to less favorable self-conceptions, more rigid social orientations, and less effective intellectual functioning. Moreover, we hypothesize that such relationships between conditions of work and personality are not solely the result of the selective entry of women into psychologically appropriate jobs or of women molding their jobs to fit their existing patterns of psychological functioning. Instead, we believe that the causal ordering is reciprocal, with the conditions and requirements of jobs both influencing and being influ- enced by personality throughout adult life. (p.66)


Gender, Women And Work, Working Conditions, Intellectual Flexibility, Reciprocity, Personality, Identity, Self, Distress, Psychology, Work Complexity, Development


Kohn-Schooler, Psychological Centrality of Work

Links to Reference



How to contribute.