Monday, May 21, 2007

Wages for Housework

In the 1970s, when I first got involved with the women's movement and feminism, there was a project called Wages for Housework that's main focus was to have women valued for the work we do in the home. I'm glad that this story has appeared, and it's a wake up call for all those mothers who think they don't do enough. (K, you hear me? : - ))

Survey: Moms' work would bring in $138,095 a year
May 3, 2007

(Reuters) -- When Tricia Himawan was a financial analyst, she worked 50 hours a week and earned about $75,000 a year. Now, she works, by her estimation, about 119 hours a week doing 11 different jobs, and, for 10 of them, she makes ... nothing.
"I work nonstop as a mother," says Himawan, of West Orange, New Jersey, as she breast-feeds her nine-month-old son Jonas and watches over 4-year-old Juliana.
If she were paid for her work as a mother, she would be earning almost $140,000 a year.

That is the conclusion of research conducted by, a firm based in Waltham, Massachusetts, that specializes in determining compensation. Himawan was one of 40,000 mothers who responded online to explaining what their job entailed and how many hours they worked. (Book urges mothers to stay in work force)
The typical mother puts in a 92-hour work week, the company concluded, and works at least 10 jobs. In order of hours spent on them per week, these are: housekeeper, day-care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, chief executive officer and psychologist. By figuring out the median salaries for each position, and calculating the average number of hours worked at each, the firm came up with $138,095 -- three percent higher than last year's results. (Audio Slide Show: Evolution of motherhood)
Even mothers who work full-time jobs outside the home put in $85,939 worth of work as mothers, according to

"My work is my family right now, and my backbone is about to break," says Himawan, who now also works at home as a real-estate broker."My baby is on my hip 24 hours a day."

CNN's Jonathan Mandell contributed to this report.
Reuters contributed to this report.


kim said...

but wouldn't you fire your cook if he or she said, "go ahead and make yourself some sandwiches!" or cooked frozen pizza 3 nights in a row and called it dinner? And wouldn't you fire your house help if you came home and the lunch dishes were still heaped up, and you asked where your new shirt was and were told, "Oh, it's in one of the baskets on the bed, don't worry, they're clean, just dig for it."

I'm not saying we shouldn't value women who stay at home, I think it's a very important thing. I'm just saying some of them, when they say they're lazy, might be right. ;-)

kim said...

I said this in my email, but wanted to put a piece of it here, too, since I'd left the previous comment in a "public" place ~ to clarify my thoughts ... I think that the whole assigning monetary value to what stay at home mom's choose is the part that I rebel against, because it misses the point. By choosing to calculate an unrealistic replacement value it seems to miss the whole point of why we do this. Even if you DID hire a gourmet cook, a therapist, a full time live in housekeeper, etc ... even if it cost even MORE to do those things wouldn't replace *Mom* ...

It isn't about the value of our services, but being there with our children to kiss a scraped knee or to be there when they have a really wonderful day. Just to be with them as they grow, working on the *heart* of the home ... intangible things, sometimes ...