Monday, July 17, 2006

Should Mom’s Pay be $134,121?

Finally a price assessment on mother’s work. But is it inflated?

If being a mother were a full-time job, what would it pay? According to, quite a lot; it values mothers’ would-be salary at $134,121 per annum.

But according to Carl Bialik’s article from The Wall Street Journal, “Putting a Price Tag on Working Moms,” has come under fire from those who argue that it used questionable tactics to arrive at the figure.

The Waltham, Mass. company conducted a focus group of mothers to detail daily tasks. The company whittled the list down from 25 to 19. e-mailed 30,000 visitors to its website and asked them to detail how many hours they spent carrying out each mothering function each day. It should be noted that the website listed the job functions without definitions. Based on 400 respondents –mothers with children 18 years old and younger — it further narrowed down the mother task list to the 10 most popular: housekeeper, day-care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, CEO, and psychologist. The number of hours for each task was multiplied by the salary for each job to arrive at the total salary.

The study revealed that stay-at-home moms worked a grueling 91.6 hours a week. After 40 hours the remaining time was clocked as overtime and time-and-a-half pay was added. Stay-at-home moms decided that 34% of their role amounted to CEO work, while working moms worked out that 50% of their time was spent as a household CEO.

One dilemma was that the CEO time was impossible to quantify. Claudia Goldin, a Harvard economics professor, bristled that no one would pay a CEO anything if they headed a company that neither produced anything nor could quantify what they did on a daily basis.

Other shortcomings cited with the report include the fact that mothers aren’t usually professionally trained to be cooks or computer technicians so their work would be overvalued in the survey.

Bill Coleman, senior vice president of compensation, rejected the criticism and pointed out that the business pages of the press were full of stories of CEOs who are unproductive and yet are paid millions. If anything, Coleman added, the survey undervalued a mother’s work because it didn’t include time spent by mothers outsourcing work.

When you guestimate the value of a job, make sure your calculations are logical and you’ll build a stronger business.

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