Over the past year, we’ve seen an increase in the number of women-only offices opening their doors around the world. Stockholm was first, then New York, and in the past six months no less than four such spaces have opened in London. Bloomberg calls it a ‘sub-trend of the rise of coworking spaces’. But what’s the appeal? Why are women choosing to work in ‘offices sans men’? Should half of the population feel a bit offended? We dig into some of the reasons why women-only workspaces are here to stay.
‘Empowered women empower women.’ Such goes the slogan for Toronto’s ‘Make Lemonade’ women-only workspace that opened in 2017. Beyoncé quotes grace the walls here, as do classic feminist ‘we can do it’ mottos. Because that’s exactly it. We, women, CAN do it, but being surrounded by successful, entrepreneurial women certainly drills that message home, and is bound to not just inspire, but empower.
One of the key benefits of working in a coworking space are the networking opportunities. Here, women help other women to succeed by exchanging ideas, skills, tools and career advice that may just be more relevant than if they came from a man. The fact is, it can get lonely out there. According to TechCrunch, only 17% of all startups have a female founder. The sad truth is that many women feel held back – be it by prejudice, lack of support or by outright sexism. And that takes us in to our next point…
3. Bye bye sexism
According to research by Young Women’s Trust, almost half of all female HR directors think their workplaces are sexist. Superfluous to say, you won’t face sexism in the office when working in a women-only workspace. There is no denying that sexism in the workplace is a huge problem both in the UK and rest of the world, and the tech industry is far from innocent. Whilst we fight for a more equal society, is it really that surprising some of us would like a break from it all from time to time?
Many of the women who chose women-only workspaces say they do so because of the culture these spaces inhabit. Escaping the stereotypical bro-culture that unfortunately still haunts many male-dominated workspaces and instead creating a different (sis-?)culture, based on a tight community, support and mentorship, is bound to sound like a dream come true for many women.
From pink wallpapers to free lunchtime manicures, it must be said that many of the women-only workspaces have embraced femininity in everything from the interior design to the perks and services they offer. And why the hell not? These women are re-defining the very idea of what an office should look like by creating homely, comfortable meccas for women to work, get inspired, and relax in – all whilst being more productive than ever before. How incredibly useful to have a breastfeeding room and onsite childcare facilities, rather than just a pool table or bottomless beer (seriously, not hating on either…just more for everyone please!)
So, should we worry about this trend? Should men be offended? I think, and hope, not. Whilst sexism in the workplace is a very serious issue that we must address and speak about, this is something different. Women-only workspaces are about women empowering other women to be better, stronger, and more successful. They are about creating a safe, inspiring and comfortable environment where women can thrive and focus on their work – in a space where they are not defined by any other means than by themselves. In a world where men have most of the advantages when it comes to work and careers, these women have created their own world, where no one but themselves are the boss of what they do and how they do it. That’s a world I would certainly embrace with open arms.
Does it sound like a dream come true? Why not check out the gorgeous amazing The Work Club – one of the finest women-only workspaces around, right here in the heart of London.