Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Psychology


Building a career and raising a family is a significant challenge presently facing many women, including sole mothers who represent a growing proportion of the working population. The work-family interface is an important area of research because work and family experiences can have a harmful effect on health outcomes and functioning, such as burnout (a process resulting from prolonged exposure to stress that promotes physical, emotional and cognitive exhaustion). Work-family conflict (WFC) is a widely examined component of the work-family interface and refers to a form of inter-role conflict that occurs when the demands of work are incompatible with the role pressures from the family domain. Many studies indicate that WFC predicts a range of adverse outcomes including burnout and poor health. However, it is also recognised that work experiences can have an enriching effect on individuals and their family by promoting positive affect, skill development and providing a sense of fulfilment that promote functioning in the family role. This process is referred to as work-family enrichment (WFE), and predicts a range of positive outcomes including higher life and job satisfaction and good mental health.

While the antecedents and outcomes of WFC and WFE have been widely investigated, few studies have focused on sole mothers in paid employment. More research is needed on sole mothers in the workforce because it is plausible that the challenges and opportunities sole mothers face in combining work and family differ from partnered mothers. This could reflect many factors including the absence of a residential partner to share family obligations, along with other indicators of social disadvantage such as lower household incomes.

The overall aim of this thesis is to investigate the nature and health implications of workfamily interface (as reflected by WFC and WFE) in sole working mothers in comparison with partnered working mothers. Furthermore, drawing on Conservation of Resources (COR) theory, this thesis investigates whether underlying differences in resources affect these relationships.

FoR codes (2008)

170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology, 170107 Industrial and Organisational Psychology



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.