Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"Salary Wizard" Gives Moms With Bad Logic/Math Skills Warm Fuzzies.

Mom's 2007 salary: $138K

"Typical" Stay-at-Home Mom
hours per week
Housekeeper 22.1
Day Care Center Teacher 15.7
Cook 13.6
Computer Operator I 9.1
Laundry Machine Operator 6.7
Janitor 6.3
Facilities Manager 5.8
Chief Executive Officer 4.2
Van Driver 4.2
Psychologist 3.9

Where do I begin? The Salary Wizard posted on is meant as a joke right? There are so many logical fallacies embedded in it, I don't know where to begin.

First of all, the salary it concludes is based largely on 'overtime pay'. But many of the salaried jobs incorporated into the calculus do not pay overtime. CEOs do not get overtime.

Secondly, it equates many tasks of mothering to positions which much higher training and education requirements than mothers have. Psychologist? CEO? Cook?

Third, a lot of these tasks are therefore qualitatively more difficult. The tasks these professionals perform may be loosely related in nature to some household tasks, but they are not the equivalent. Managing a company is much more intense, stressful, and complicated than managing a household.

Fourth, the tasks are quantitatively different. Day Care Teachers are being paid to watch dozens of kids, Laundry Machine Operators are constantly turning over loads, and cooks have to churn out hundreds of meals per hour. Doing these tasks for just a few people is less intense, and usually permits breaks. If these moms are just standing there and watching the pasta boil / laundry spin, they have issues.

Fifth, it incorporates many self-care tasks that everyone does. We are all 'housekeepers' when we clean up after ourselves, we are all 'cooks' when we prepare our own meals. We all have to 'manage' out homes. These tasks may be much more difficult and time intensive with children, but unless you are only looking at the difference, the test is dishonest.

Sixth, some of these tasks are redundant. Housekeeper/Janitor? CEO/Facilities manager? How is someone supposed to know when you're doing one or the other?

Seventh: Computer Operator? What the hell? Are they really equating surfing Mommy blogs to what a computer operator does? What does a computer operator do?

Of course, it is always subject to the flaw that moms will overestimate the amount of time they put in. They will count the time they read a magazine while their kids watches the Wiggles as day care, or unconsciously up the numbers all around. Of course, that is not unique to moms, or this online calculator? Who hasn't underestimated the amount of time they drive to have a smaller ecological footprint, upped the hours they exercise in the RealAge test?

Ultimately, you could view this one of two ways. It could just be a cute way for kids to say thanks to their mothers. It could be a way for mothers to feel a little less put out by a society full of working women.

But it could be a bit more dangerous than that. It could be a sign of the raging pronatalism which attempts to paint motherhood as a selfless, sainted act instead of a personal choice which brings enjoyment and most of the time has some ancillary benefit to society. It could be just another Public relations ploy in the move to get society to open up their wallets more and more to subsidize this choice.

I hope it is the former.

I welcome comments here; there is also a discussion going on at

Technorati Tag:


Unknown said...

I dare anyone to try to get a CEO position, and tell them that they'll only be able to do it for 4.2 hours a week.

Don't let the door of the boardroom hit your ass on the way out.

Sun Runner said...

Hell, I do all of that (minus the day care providing) AND work 40 hours a week. So where's MY $138,000?

Why, just last night, after coming home from work I vacuumed my entire house, did three loads of laundry, cooked dinner for my husband and I, and washed dishes. I expect a check shortly.

Adri said...

Seriously. Are they addding the time that EVERYONE spends doing their laundry and cleaning house to all the other Salary Wizard occupations? Motherhood is great for those who want it, I'm sure. I just don't think that popping out a couple puts you in the same rank as a CEO.