Stories Spark Change

Petrushka Bazin Larsen holds Ila, her five month old daughter, while working from home as Program Manager at The Laundromat Project, a non-profit offering art workshops in laundromats located in low-income neighborhoods.

Photo by Alice Proujansky

There is nothing new about images of American mothers, especially those addressing the intersection of wage earner, provider and caregiver. Famously, Dorthea Lange’s 1936 portrayal of a migrant farm mother and her children, named by CNN as one of the most iconic images of all time, is burned in our memory. Portraits of the American familial experience continue to captivate us. Historically, these powerful glimpses connect and remind us, decade to decade, of the determination of the American mother and the power of our overwhelming desire to do better by the next generation.

This is a concept that never fails to engage and intrigue, deeply resonating with each of us, reminding us of the increasing complexity of our lives and the challenges at hand. When we see images of working mothers as captured by documentary photographer Alice Proujansky featured on PBS Newshour, we see in the photos ourselves, our wives, our own mothers. We see our struggles and we see our successes.


Projansky’s photo project Women’s Work provides visual storytelling of the beauty and the struggle of modern mothers in America striving to serve both their careers and their families. The images are compelling and deeply familiar. What an remarkable project and product. We at the It’s Working Project applaud this project and we feel a deep connection with its mission


The stories that we are collecting from our Portrait Project parents provide insight through first-person accounts, richly candid narratives that tell the stories in a way that only one who has lived it can. Our mosaic is made up of words, and the hundreds of unique stories from working parents reveal honest details of parents’ failures and triumphs.


Words are powerful, as FairyGodboss is likewise proving. At this site women can anonymously provide feedback about workplaces, providing a transparency of work cultures that is improving the workplace and changing work cultures. Collectively the women’s voices collected by FairyGodboss are identifying the top companies and industries for gender equality at work and women’s job satisfaction.


The answer to “how” and “when” is as unique as the parent who is defining it. And like all the trajectories, support is the key to success. This is why we love the mission of Path Forward, the nonprofit focused on bringing women back into the workplace who have been on formal work hiatus due to family caregiving, and bringing return to work programs to companies. Through midcareer internships, Path Forward offers returning professionals the opportunity to restart or refocus their careers with companies that appreciate the skills they offer, the perspective they provide and the contributions they can make. Path Forward shares these stories of re-entry via their quickly growing blog.


We encourage all parents to keep sharing these stories of the changing landscape for working parents in America. Pass them forward, and of course, encourage your friends, work associates and fellow parents to share their very personal tales. Stories, images and personal narratives are what keep this issue front and center in the media and in conversations. Stories spark solutions and provide a new standard of transparency that takes us to the change of tomorrow.

Please share your story of working parenthood with the It’s Working Project. Your contribution is a valuable step forward toward a modified workplace culture in this country. Your stories directly speak to the changing needs of working parents in a way that supports all stakeholders in this highly complex and shifting workscape.

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