In subjecting the family to scientific analysis, these exerts analogized a wife's roles to jobs in the workplace. But the homemaker has a nebulous job description and lacks specific qualitifications or training. When "professional" standards of achievement are set for such a job, one can easily doubt both the job's desirability and one's own ability to do it well. Helena Lopata has described the housewife's role as lacking the basic criteria of a job: no organized social circle sets qualifications, tests for competence, or dismisses for incompetences. Nor is there a set pay scale for the job of housewife; in the ordinary sense, there is no pay at all. The role never receives a high social prestige, a homemaker being "typically portrayed as someone who needs little intelligence since the duites are routine and narrow in scope." As society has assigned increasing importance to education and has given prestige to work proportional ot the education it reequires, the housewife's role--perceived as requiring no education at all--has become even less prestigious.
Lopata's interviews with housewives, on the other hand, disclosed that respect for the knowledge required of them increased in proportion to the respondent's level of education; many of them regretted the lack of specific training for the homemaking role. Lopata concluded that working women, many of whom were not deeply concerned with the housewife's role and performed it minimally, believed the role required no special skills; but those who were "performing the role of housewife in a complex and creatively competent manner see it as requiring many different areas of knowledge." This conclusion accords with my own experience that the familiar metaphor of peeling an onion bedt describes the housewife's role, for it is only when one undertakes the task that one can appreciate its magnitude.
Because of its indeterminancy, the housewife's role very likely requires more self-motivation than any other. A homemaker has maximum freedom to define the scope of her duties and obtain whatever knowledge she believes their performance requires. . . .
from pg. 47-48 ,"The Expert Culture" section in chapter 1, "Women's Divine Discontent"
Perhaps part of society's condescension toward the housewife, then, is based upon a misapplication of evaluative criteria. If you judge a wheat field by the criteria for a prize-winning rose garden or vice versa, the judgement is bound to turn out poorly. Likewise, if you judge a homemaker by social position, income, or even professional training required, the result will be unfavorable, because the criteria are wholly inadequate.