Small companies often have barely enough to pay employees that are present. To be paying for employees on leave is something else, male or female. I recently had to take leave and if it wasn't for my insurance I wouldn't have gotten a dime. At the same time all the tech companies I have worked at treated everyone fairly and had policies about 'poisoned workplace'. Sure there are people who have discriminatory attitude, but in a healthy work place they shouldn't be staying long.
As for pay I don't know enough about the realities and individual cases to know the truth. What I do know is companies will often give you a pay that you negotiated, which may be worse than you are worth. A good company will try give up something fair knowing that unfair salary if it becomes knowledge hurts them more. My current company makes it a fireable offence to talk salary. Other companies I have worked for have a ladder according to position.
Good colleagues come in many shapes, form, sexuality, culture and variations of gended, just as do the bad colleagues. We all screw up sometimes, but we should endeavour to treat each other fairly and with respect.