Objectives: For many occupations, much has been learned about the effects of work and the workplace on job satisfaction and employment-related stress. However, there is an absence of research exploring the determinants of job satisfaction among sex workers. This paper examines predictors of job satisfaction among female sex workers engaged in brothels, private situations or street-based work. Methods: A convenience sample included 247 female sex workers (aged 18 to 57 years) working throughout Queensland, Australia. This included workers from legal brothels (n=102), private sole-operators (n=103) and illegal street-based sex workers (n=42). Results: The average age was 32 years, with most participants born either in Australia or New Zealand. One in five women had completed a bachelor degree or higher. Overall, the sex workers reported roughly equivalent job satisfaction to Australian women (Baxter et al. 1996). A desire to leave the sex industry was most strongly correlated with reduced job satisfaction (p=<0.01). Satisfaction was also relatively low among those whose family was not aware of their sex work (p=<0.01). Average job satisfaction scores for private sex workers were 64 (95% CI 60, 68), compared with 59 (95% CI 55, 63) for legal brothel workers, and 55 (95% CI 49, 62) for those working illegally (p=0.03). Conclusions: Analysis suggests a complex interaction between variables contributing to job satisfaction. In general, it appears that the majority of sex workers enjoyed at least as much job satisfaction as women working in other occupations. Varying levels of job satisfaction in different sectors of the sex industry will be discussed in relation to characteristics of the workplace and the associated hazards, especially risk of violence.
Conflict of Interest: None disclosed
Financial Support/Funding: Prostitution Licensing Authority
Sydney Australia, April 2007