"The Obamas are also going to take a huge pay cut. Sure, he'll make more, getting bumped from a senator's salary to that of a president, but he won't have time to write those bestselling books. Worse, she's not going to make a thing. The first lady is forced to work around the clock for no pay. She's technically a volunteer in the White House." —Joel Achenbach
Is this true? Is a first lady not allowed to work professionally? Would her working professionally somehow result in a conflict of interest for the White House (i.e., tax cuts to the first lady's industry)? Clearly there are unofficial White House-y duties to attend to, but does that preclude her choosing another more enjoyable, paid occupation? Self-employment perhaps?
"There is a strong tradition against the First Lady holding outside employment while occupying the office. The first lady frequently participates in humanitarian and charitable work; over the course of the 20th century it became increasingly common for first ladies to select specific causes to promote, usually ones that are not politically divisive. It is common for the first lady to hire a staff to support these activities."
This is a pretty sexist precedent (outside of the fact that there have been no women presidents, obviously). I certainly support "humanitarian and charitable work", but I don't much like the idea of a first lady being pigeonholed into it.
First Black Lady—Lady Tigra