More working women are seeking more flexible work schedules to help them creatively manage this ambition, but whether because of personal preference or pressure from coworkers, flextime schedules aren't for every woman.
Heidi Williams-Foy is a mother whose web producer job allowed her to work a flextime schedule. But the flexible hours didn't work for Williams-Foy as her oldest son grew and entered school, so she went back to working regular hours. Her experience highlights another aspect of flextime schedules: the impact they can have on workers with traditional schedules.
"Even though I get along really well with everyone that I work with," she said, "I think there was a tiny bit of resentment and maybe a little bit of jealousy."
Indeed, Amy Binder, 53, CEO at RF Binder, a national PR firm in New York, understands this feeling all too well. From that generation of women who broke through glass ceilings, Amy admits she wasn't always so sympathetic to young female workers juggling work and families.
"My feeling was, hey you know, I did it, so why can't you do it?," Binde said. She felt that her employees, whether male or female, with families or without, needed to be in the office and available to clients during working hours."
"I never was running out to get my child from daycare and it really drove me nuts," Binder said.
Janine Savarese, her employee, was the one driving her nuts. She'd worked with Amy for years, but having a baby changed everything.
"It was really hard," Savarese explained. "I'd worked there for five years. I was a vice president at 25 and you know, I was 28 when I had Carly and I felt like I had put in all that time and I was still working on the way to pick her up from my BlackBerry and I still logged in at night."
Savarese was struggling to find a balance with these two roles, and failing. She felt like she was disappointing her mentor. "I wanted her to think I was doing a good job and she was unhappy with me because my work was -- it was just, it was a disaster," Savarese said.
But Binder's opinion has changed. After Savarese quit, Binder rethought her stance on scheduling. Today, Janine has rejoined the company -- working a flexible schedule. Two days a week she works from her home in New Jersey; the third day, she works in the office. The situation allows her ample time to spend with her three small children. And it's enabled her boss to see the good sense that flextime schedules make.
According to Binder, flex time has allowed her firm to retain top talent. In addition to Savarese, Binder says she has several other young mothers at her office now working flex time. And, as a mother of three grown children -- including two grown sons -- Amy says she also believes flex time needs to be extended to both genders; not just women.
"If you don't have a life, then you're not as good of an employee," Binder said, "because you don't have time to think." Not just for moms, this rationale extends to single women as well.
Christine Heenan said this the type of support is catching on in many different work environments. At Harvard Medical, a bright young researcher delivered her twins prematurely. The researcher's employer worked with faculty development to give her a raise to hire a nanny with healthcare capabilities. They also hired a technician to help with her work load.