Although research has established the importance for health of a sense of personal control at work, the implications of this for women have not been adequately studied. Using quantitative data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health and qualitative data from an associated study, here we examine women’s health and sense of control in relation to family and employment commitments. In line with other research, ‘demand over-load’ is found to be important for sense of control, but both ‘over-load’ and ‘control’ prove complex, as illustrated by the finding that good mental health is associated with satisfaction with, rather than actual, hours of employment. In the contemporary western context of longer working hours, increasing time strain, and gender relations shaped within a neo-liberal, individualised social environment, the findings suggest that as life speeds up, ‘control’ and the health effects of ‘busyness’, need to be understood not merely as personal matters, but rather as potentially important public health issues.
Social Science and Medicine Vol. 65, Issue 6, p. 1142-1153