Few studies have directly compared men's and women's perceptions of paid employment; in the past, the sociology of paid work concentrated on men (Phelan et al. 1993). More recently, studies have included female as well as male employees but are often flawed by implicit assumptions about the importance of different social ‘roles’ for men and women. While paid work is seen as central to men's attitudes and behaviour both in and out of the workplace, for women personal characteristics and family circumstances are often deemed to be more important, with paid work conceptualised as an ‘additional’ role rather than an indicator of status, income and class position (Arber 1991; Feldberg and Glenn 1979). Sophisticated attempts to compare attitudes of men and women to paid work have been hindered by the gendered structure of the labour market. Statements about gender differences in general population samples are problematic because women and men occupy different jobs with varying conditions, rewards and demands. Thus, it is difficult to tell whether any observed ‘gender’ differences in perceptions of paid work are really ‘job’ differences (Lefkowitz 1994).