Pink-Collar and Underpaid

Economists posit that pink-collar jobs — work usually done by women — are underpaid, not least because we like to believe that the products involved (love, tenderness, care) are given not sold.

I once asked the nanny from Mindanao who was educated as a doctor whether she minded her job here. She shrugged and said: “No, Mona. It is dignified work.” Though less recognized and less valued in our culture, nannies understand the significance of their contribution. They know it every night, as they are being tugged at and begged not to leave.

Mona Simpson wrote the cover story for The New York Times Magazine this weekend, which focused on nannies, the love and care they provide to the children of other parents, and the complications of paying someone to provide that tenderness to a child. Yes, we’d like to think that someone paid to care for children would love them out of the goodness of their heart, and not for cold hard cash, but that doesn’t mean that being a loving, kind person doesn’t have any value. We all might have not grown up with nannies, but we have had teachers, and the good ones — the ones that care about their jobs and the children they teach — are invaluable. Unfortunately, they too tend to be underpaid.

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