If we denigrate parenting and housework, we not only insult the contributions of other women, we also give men more incentive to shirk their duties at home.
Further, it is my impression that a father who takes time off for the "daddy track" would likely face greater obstacles returning to the workforce than a mother, so perhaps the problem is not so much one of "feminism" but of the fact that attitudes like Hirshman's - that child-rearing tasks are unworthy - are pervasive.
I know at least one reader whose decision to stay home was influenced in part by the fact that it would have been impossible for her husband to do so. In his profession, there was too much of a stigma attached to men who stay home with kids.
Certainly in the bad old days before the successes of Second Wave feminism, the "housewife" wasn't exactly a respected figure in our society. Even now some of the elderly male partners at my firm will advise us trial lawyers to simplify (and shorten!!) our language as if we were trying to explain the complexities of the case to "Aunt Milly" -- the assumption being that Aunt Milly is a rather simple person since she likely spent her whole life at home scrubbing floors. I am willing to bet that utter lack of respect for housewives in the past was probably part of the motivation for many Second Wavers to reject the homemaker role.
The social conservatives have wised up. Thus, the "family values" set is all about glorifying the homemaker's role -- as long as women are doing it of course. All this talk of the Proverbs 31 woman whose value is greater than rubies is intended to encourage women in their homemaker role. That encouragement is far more necessary than in the past because women now have so many options outside the home.
It is human nature that people are more likely to do things, especially things above and beyond what is expected, if those things aren't treated as shameful. Therefore, while I am all in favor of encouraging women to be hard chargers at work, I agree that it is an enormous blunder to stigmatize the very necessary activities of cooking, mopping, scrubbing, vacuuming, and most significantly, childcare. Even without kids in the mix, housework is important because it is very difficult to function at capacity in a chaotic and unclean environment. (That's why the military is so rigorous in its standards of order and cleanliness. In the traditionally all-male military environment, cleaning wasn't stigmatized at all but seen as a necessary component of accomplishing the military's mission.) So certainly we should value housework and childcare. Without doing so, there would be no incentive for men to do it other than "it's the right thing to do." (There are some guys out there doing it, though, like Rebel Dad).
Thus, I agree wholeheartedly that Hirshman was wrong to denigrate homemakers. And while I know Nicole ain't buying it, I think that Hirshman's denigration of stay-at-home-parenting is tangential to her argument (although in interviews and such Hirshman herself seems to be stressing that pieces of her argument for some reason that escapes me). In fact, I think it is counterproductive to her argument because, if the ultimate goal, is truly free choices for men and women without regard to societal assumptions based on sex, then we need to eradicate the pressures on men not to do homemaking as much as we need to eradicate the pressure on women to take on the homemaking role.