Valuing Women’s Work

By Lois Kazakoff
San Francisco Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This article takes a look at how we value caregivers. The author Lois Kazakoff points to the work of Anne-Marie Slaughter, who spoke Tuesday at the Bay Area Women’s Summit. Slaughter, the president of New America and a Princeton professor, has written extensively about elevating the value of care. Slaughter frames it as advancing equity for domestic workers and professional women alike. “If we focus on care, we get to policies that help all women,” she said.

San Francisco

As a woman of a certain age, I’ve struggled for decades with admission to and recognition in the workplace, and with the frustrating task of balancing life and work. Now I realize the next step is to re-evaluate the work my mother did — caring for her family.

In my personal journey, I cast off or reprioritized much of what she had taught me. I remodeled my look (business jackets, never soft sweaters). I avoided the kind of grassroots community volunteer work she thrived on and instead sought out opportunities to widen my professional network. She must have felt devalued by her daughter’s frenetic, single-minded, work-related pursuits. Once, when called for jury duty, she told the court clerk she was “just a housewife.”

Far from “just a housewife,” my mother and the women like her — who work every day to make their house a home, their city a community and their family happy, healthy and resilient — are the glue that holds society together. I didn’t tell my mother enough how much I valued her creativity and hard work to care for us and the community we lived in. As a society, we don’t value care and we must. Starting now.

“The caring professions are paid less well and valued less than competitive professions,” noted Anne-Marie Slaughter, who spoke Tuesday at the Bay Area Women’s Summit, a gathering of 1,500 (mostly) women at Moscone Center in San Francisco. “That must change.”

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