In recent years, many people have shifted from traditional careers to remote work, solopreneurship and freelancing. In response to this change, coworking spaces have sprung up in cities around the world. However, many of these spaces have predominantly catered to men, home to ping pong tables and beer kegs, where women have felt socially isolated, been subjected to sexual harassment or otherwise experienced the impact of workplace sexism.
Unlike traditional offices, members choose coworking spaces based on their specific needs. Therefore, finding the right fit is integral for personal and professional fulfillment. There are now several women's coworking spaces that emphasize community, mental health and professional success by creating wellness-focused environments in which women can support one another.
In New York City, Manhattan’s “The Wing” is a women-only coworking space with a mission to enable women of different backgrounds and professions to come together for mutual support, relationship-building, and wellness. Located in the Flatiron neighborhood of the Ladies Mile Historic District, “The Wing” is an open concept space with feminine decor that is home to meeting rooms, a library, a breastfeeding room, a beauty room, showers and a cafe equipped with wine and cocktails.
“Shecosystem” on Bloor Street West in Toronto is a self-identified “work-life space” for women, transgender and non-binary people to not just work but also foster holistic wellbeing, cultivate community and network with others. The cozy space is complete with refurbished brick and flowing natural light alongside a lounge, multi-purpose studio, private offices, a healing room with a massage table, a harvest table and kitchen.
Gabrielle Cenona, 25, a Shecosystem regular and woman working in the tech industry says "Being in tech and business is hard - I'm glad spaces like this exist and allow women entrepreneurs to not have to choose between their business and their identity."
“Paper Dolls” on San Vincente Boulevard in Los Angeles began as a curated series of dinners that later blossomed into a beautiful studio space where women can collaborate and pursue professional success on their own terms. The studio includes a workspace, private offices, a conference room and snack area that can be accessed on a drop-in or monthly basis. Several new locations are planned in cities across the United States such as Seattle, Atlanta, San Francisco and Chicago.
These three spaces are only a few of an ever-growing amount of women’s coworking spaces designed to bring women, transgender and non-binary people together for mutual wellness, collaboration, support, networking and community. There are also coworking spaces with childcare available, positioning people to work and parent in the same place. Coworking spaces are also becoming “boutiques” — meaning they offer specialized products and services for their clientele.
According to Statista, a German market research firm, there were 11,300 coworking spaces worldwide, a number estimated to reach 13,800 by 2018. While there is little statistical information detailing how many women's coworking spaces presently exist, both The Wing and Paper Dolls are preparing to launch multiple spaces across the United States in response to growing demand. When The Wing announced its Washington, D.C. location - they received over 1000 applications within 24 hours.
Startup ecosystems and the corporate world alike are dominated by men, forcing women, trans and non-binary people to experience discrimination that interferes with their ability to succeed. Working in a nurturing environment enables them to move past unnecessary distractions and focus on their personal and professional success instead. As the ways we work and live continue to change, the demand for alternative workspaces will only increase in turn.
When women create and design spaces for themselves, they are able to address the barriers and challenges that have hindered their progress in traditional office environments. Coworking spaces like The Wing, Shecosystem and Paper Dolls are providing women with the opportunity to feel grounded and at home with like-minded individuals, gain confidence in their career paths and build meaningful and lasting connections.
(Image courtesy of Shecosystem)