We Must Value Women’s Work!

Rev. Harriet Bradley
Atlanta, GA

I am a woman of many skills and trades — I have been a school teacher, and served on the board of my school district’s union. I am a board member of 9to5 Atlanta. I am a Reverend, and like the Apostle Paul, who was a tentmaker to supplement his ministry income, nine years ago the Lord placed me in a job as a home caregiver.  I was in total shock when I found out that, in such an important role as caregiver, I would only be making minimum wage, and receive no benefits.

I quickly discovered that there was an attitude that my work was menial and the value of it minimal.  We don’t tend to highly value the work that is traditionally done by women. In fact, we will pay someone more to take of our cars than we will pay them to take care of our children or elderly parents.

I have been with an agency for over eight years and I am making the same minimum rate as when I started with them.  No raises at all!  I have no sick days or vacation days. As a caregiver I must keep my first aid training, CPR certification and TB tests current, all of which I have to pay for myself.

Women are more than twice as likely as men to work in occupations with poverty wages.1  Even when occupations require the same skill level, the male-dominated fields have higher median wages than the female-dominated fields.2 Our society does not properly value the work that women do — even when it is as crucial as caring for our loved ones. As a home caregiver, I am not just providing services like cooking, dressing the client, or cleaning as “simple chores.” These services help the client to maintain a normal life and remain in their own home, even with some disabilities.  Not to mention that the client is getting personal contact with a person who brings joy and laughter to them.  That in itself is priceless.

Being a caregiver not only provides services for the clients but it helps the entire family to live a normal and productive life.  Now it is time for the caregivers’ pay to be increased so that their quality of life will improve also. It’s time to appreciate and value the vital work that women do, and pay them fairly for it.


This blog post is part of 9to5’s collection The Face of the Wage Gap to illuminate the ways that the gap between the income of men and women has many factors and many necessary solutions. Please share these blog posts with your social media networks. 

  1. The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation.” Institute for Women’s Policy Research. April 2013.
  2. Separate and Not Equal? Gender Segregation in the Labor Market and the Gender Wage Gap.” Institute for Women’s Policy Research. August 2010.

4 thoughts on “We Must Value Women’s Work!”

  1. This is such a powerful story about why we must value women’s work. What I’m still thinking about is the HOW. What’s it going to take to shift our cultural attitudes about caregiving and other traditionally feminine roles?

  2. I totally agree with this conversation! Why should a person caring for another only be paid $8.00 or a little more with no benefits? The car mechanic gets paid $65 an hour or more. I realised at an early age that working with inanimate objects pays way more than working with people. I have always chosen to work with people and it seems like my “sense of worth” doesn’t really matter to a prospective employer. Twelve years ago I worked at a job that paid me $10.00 per hour, which I worked at for five years—-with no benefits. If my young children were sick, I would lose that pay for the day. As a single parent, it took some creative budgeting with expenses. I have been thankful for the “safety net” programs—SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, assistance with child care and the HUD Section 8 rental assistance voucher. Over the years as my kids have aged, I am still utilizing these programs today. This is not what I had planned, but when an employer only wants to pay a person $8.00 an hour and only offer part-time employment with no benefits….not much choice to make ends meet.I have met many single parents that have been in my shoes, male and female, that are struggling to work and make ends meet. Most people that I have met want to work and not live off of the system. All this time, I keep thinking about the constituents in Washington, DC and their “golden fleece plan” that the Americans people are paying for….forever! How dare anyone criticize myself and others for trying to get ahead, but in reality, only barely treading water to stay afloat!

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