U.S. women opt for help at home over office: poll

BOSTON Tue May 3, 2011 4:57pm EDT

BOSTON (Reuters Life!) - Working mothers want to earn a good salary, put a higher priority on getting some help around the house than at the office, and undervalue their work at home, surveys released on Tuesday showed.

Salary is the key factor when job-hunting, according to women who work outside the home, but a family-friendly office, job enjoyment and flexible schedules are also priorities, a survey from iVillage and TODAY.com showed.

Eight out of 10 working mothers earn at least half of their household's income, it said.

A majority of women also are responsible for most household chores, prompting about 70 percent to say they would prefer an assistant at home over one at the office.

"Unfortunately, what working moms have the least time for is themselves," said Kelly Wallace, chief corespondent for iVillage.

Work and home pressures leave nearly half of working mothers feeling unhealthy, and about 40 percent said they do not have enough time with their children, the survey showed.

A Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. survey estimated that around the house, women log more hours cooking and cleaning than men but undervalue their contributions in dollar terms.

Men and women both say they do about $25,000 worth of household chores, but Penn Mutual found women spent more time than men per week on every chore from walking the dog to doing laundry.

The insurance company calculated the median value for a woman's contribution to the home is closer to $34,000, as opposed to just over $19,000 for a man.

Mothers and single women, in particular, short-change their contributions around the house, it said.

Penn Mutual estimated the work a mother with a young child does around the house at about $45,000 but said those women perceived their worth at just $29,000.

More than half of women surveyed underestimated their worth by at least $10,000, the survey showed.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)

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