When I first started asking people to submit stories, I imagined hordes of angry women spewing out their outrage. Work isn't fair! Don't they know we're not their slaves? How am I supposed to have a life with a workplace like this?
Sure, I heard about some rotten things that happened. Some bosses are the show-up-or-else type. Some workplaces crack the whip if you don't put in the hours they think you should.
But what I learned is that each woman's story is a mixture of good and bad, even at the same job sometimes. One friend of mine, for example, was excited to be able to cut back her hours and work from home. It really worked well, until the new boss came in and said it had to be full time or nothing.There was another story about a supervisor who poked into one woman's personal affairs and violated her confidentiality. Afterward, her workplace made a major effort to train its staff so the same mistake wouldn't happen again.
I suspect that for most women, it's the same. You've had some really understanding bosses, and others who were not. You've had jobs where your supervisor gave you all the time off you needed, and other jobs where you had to ask permission just to blow your nose. You've had a nasty run-in with a co-worker, and then your workplace stood up for you.
To me, this is encouraging. It shows that even if the law doesn't force every employer to conform to a certain type of family-friendly policy, some employers do so anyway, whether it's because they want to attract and keep good employees, or because of their personal values. Employers are taking initiative, more so every day.