In the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, when 1 in 4 women are still experiencing workplace harassment, it is clear that the office culture and landscape need to change. Because of this, many women are now seeking out a safe place that gives them room to grow and empower their fellow women. More women are now flocking to female-led or even women-only coworking spaces that have a completely different feel and energy. The benefits go beyond just having a productive place to work — the ripple effect is beginning to affect other industries as well. Here’s how:
When a female-led coworking space host events that are attended by only females, the pressure to be part of the “boy’s club” is alleviated. The struggles of women are often similar — many are jugging personal life and children with their career, trying to start a business, or raising funds.
Many coworking spaces are now offering programs that bring small groups of women together monthly to take their business to the next level. Women-only meetings and spaces can help them feel inspired and empowered, rather than pressured by the need to be competitive. This feeling is hard to replicate in situations with mostly male leaders in management positions.
While women own 38% of all businesses in the US, they receive only 2% of all venture financing. Women-led businesses have found that the money they do raise is often significantly lower than what their male counterparts are able to raise. One main issue is that there is a lack of support and resources that females can turn to. Female-led coworking spaces help to change that, with their niche-focused networking events and forums. There are an increasing number of investors who recognize the untapped potential of women-run businesses and coworking spaces. For example, The Assemblage and The Wing, two hugely popular women-only coworking spaces, were backed by investors who intentionally seek out women-run ventures.
At the networking events or just in day-to-day life at a female-only coworking space, a safe place to communicate has been created. Unfortunately, studies have found that men dominate most conversations in the workplace. Whether this is due to men interrupting women, or women not speaking up, it is clear that women need somewhere to express themselves. A female-led coworking space empowers women by allowing them to speak up without the fear of being perceived as bossy or overbearing.
A LinkedIn study found that 82% of women believed that having a mentor is important, but 1 in 5 lack this connection. Luckily, coworking spaces are giving women a chance to seek out a mentor. At female-led networking opportunities, attendees can connect with seasoned entrepreneurs who understand the unique struggles of being a woman in business, and who can impart some valuable advice.
Some of the women-only coworking spaces are tailored to the unique needs of women with children. A recent study by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) found that lack of childcare was one of the biggest barriers to women entering the workforce. With a rise in coworking spaces that offer childcare, it gives mothers a chance to unite and continue to work.
Just 40% of all entrepreneurs are women, according to a 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity. While progress has been made in the last few years, it is clear more work still needs to be done. Through networking events, mentorships, and offering affordable childcare options, we might start to see a change in this statistic, thanks to women-only coworking spaces.