Thursday, May 03, 2007

Remuneration for Moms

I remember when I was studying French (years ago at Middlebury), a debate that broke out in one of my courses over the issue of whether or not stay-at-home moms (or even working moms) should earn a salary for their work. I believe it was a bill facing the parliament in France? The idea is that the state would pay women for for their labor.

While I don't envisage such legislation ever having half a chance in the U.S. Congress (perhaps others have smarter things to say?), it is food for thought to consider how much unpaid labor women do as mothers. CNN reports today what, on average, women could earn for their work:

(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."

Find out how much salary you should be earning with the Mom's Salary Wizard at

UPDATE: See Jessica from feministing on this issue.