In industrial societies, we have come to define work as something which is usually done outside the home, and in exchange for payment. That people should 'go out' to work is taken for granted, and a woman is described as 'leaving work' when she withdraws from paid employment in order to have a baby. Yet most of the activities that are carried on in the home would meet the criteria that are used to distinguish work from leisure or pleasure. Cooking, washing, tidying up, taking care of small children - these are all activities which feel like work, and they are as essential to a society's well-being as that work which is done on farms, in factories or offices. Despite this, housework is not a 'job' for most who do it. It does not ahve an eight-hour day, overtime rates, paid holidays or sickness entitlements. Women cannot usually retire from it and, in any case, find themselves without superannuation. Housework is work done for no pay at all, and htose who do it are classified as economically inactive - as 'dependants'.
Belinda Probert, "Women's working lives", in Contemporary Australian Feminism, 2nd ed., Longman, Melbourne: 1997