Each year Salary.com releases a survey that puts a price tag on what being a stay-at-home mom is worth. This year's Moms Salary Survey calculates that would-be salary at $122,732 for U.S. stay-at-home mothers. Women who work outside the home should also receive an extra $76,184 on top of that, according to the poll. Too bad that's not going to happen.
I have no doubt that this year's survey will receive a good amount of attention like it has in past years. Generally, the media's coverage of this survey has seemed focused on making mothers feel good about what they do by acknowledging all the hard work that goes into raising children and running a household. By putting a dollar figure to what women should be paid for performing the 10 most popular "mom job functions" -- including cook, laundry operator, housekeeper, and van driver -- this survey can serve as a validation of what some women may feel is one of society's most undervalued and taken-for-granted roles: motherhood.
I am a mother of a preschooler and also run a business from home, and I can tell you it's no walk in the park to juggle all the hats that go with my various roles. So I'm always interested to see what figure Salary.com will come up with for the job of being a mother.
However, each year I'm left with the same realization that unless the average woman finds a wealthy sugar daddy to marry her, she'll never receive compensation and/or perks anywhere near a six-figure salary for being a stay-at home mother. Many women are lucky if once a year on Mother's Day they get a day off from cooking, cleaning and chasing their kids around the house.
Even for women who work outside the home (regardless of their marital or mothering status), receiving a six-figure salary is mostly a fantasy. On average, women only earn about 78 cents for every dollar that men earn for the same job. Minority women earn even less. The median earnings for women in 2007 were $35,102, according to the U.S Census Bureau. Also, women tend to move in and out of the workforce as they juggle work and motherhood, which can impact the total amount of their lifetime earnings.
It would be nice if there were a way to actually pay mothers $122,732 for all their hard work, but we all know this just isn't going to happen. Even women who choose to work in the child-care industry can only expect median annual earnings of $17,630, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Many mothers know they'll never earn six figures, but would be happy to have decent health care for their families, affordable housing, food and gas prices. While we're fantasizing, they'd also welcome the option of working for companies that actually think it's important to accommodate moms by offering perqs such as flexible schedules, on-site daycares, nursing rooms, and not being penalized for taking time off to care for sick children.
I don't know if those things add up to six figures, but it would be a nice start.