Does your city have any female-focused workspaces? Have you tried them? We all know about the “good ol’ boys’ club” and the age-old tradition of men networking on the golf course, but even newer networking environments such as coworking spaces typically have a male focus, sometimes earning the nickname of “broworking” spaces. For example, as of last fall, at least, Quartz reported that
Not a single co-founder or board member at WeWork, Industrious, or Rocketspace, some of the biggest coworking companies in America, is a woman. Unsurprisingly, this means that many of these spaces feel quite white, male, and techy.
To counter that, female-focused workspaces and women’s private clubs, such as The Wing and The Riveter, have been cropping up all over. An article at Inc. called it “a trend-within-a-trend [that] has been picking up serious steam” and The Week commented, “As the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements shine a light on some of the hazards of working while female, coworking hubs for women and people who identify as non-binary are popping up around the country.” In addition to a lot of media coverage, female-focused workspaces have also brought controversy; for example, the New York Human Rights Commission investigated The Wing for sex discrimination.)
Corporette readers have been curious about female-focused workspaces (primarily The Wing), but their questions in the comments haven’t gotten many responses in the past, so we’d love to get your input today. Have you joined a women-centric coworking space or a women’s private club? If so, where do you live, and what’s your profession? If the group is more on the “club” side of things, what was the application process? Is The Wing’s $2,000/year membership realistic for you and your friends/colleagues? What are the advantages of joining a female-focused workspace or women’s members-only club, and how do those perks differ from those of other organizations, e.g., Junior League or Rotary?
(On the subject of networking, we’ve also talked about female-only networking groups, how to build your network and maintain it, how to network when you’re junior, finding and joining professional organizations, joining the boys’ club when you’re a woman, and more.)
First of all, let’s look at what these places offer for women. Here are details on the two big players among the female-focused workplaces of the moment, The Wing and The Riveter:
The Wing: The tagline for The Wing, a private club and “network of community & work spaces designed for women” is “Advancing women by gathering them together.” It was created for women to network, make friends, support one another, and collaborate (and in January 2019, it officially began welcoming gender-nonconforming and trans folks as well). Members have access to various communal areas, conference rooms, a café, a”beauty room,” a lactation room, showers, and more — plus an app and online community. For working moms, “The Little Wing” provides babysitting and other parent perks. The Wing also puts on “intimate gatherings” for its members. It has three locations in NYC as well as spaces in D.C. and San Francisco, and it’s expanding quickly, with future spots in Chicago, West Hollywood, Boston, London, Toronto, and Seattle. Membership is $185/month. (A scholarship program is available.)
The Riveter: The Riveter, which provides community and coworking spaces, positions itself a bit differently with the tagline “Built by Women, for Everyone.” (About 25% of its members are men.) The Riveter offers a range of membership levels, from a full-time private office to a reserved desk to a casual place to work a few hours a week. It has a digital network and its own app. The 24-hour facilities contain workspaces, various communal areas, conference rooms, meditation rooms, mothers’ rooms, and like The Wing, they host many events. Currently, The Riveter has a more limited geographic focus than The Wing, with two locations in Seattle, one in L.A., and one in Austin — but locations opening soon include Dallas, Denver, Portland, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Atlanta. Membership fees vary by city, but at its flagship location in Seattle, options range from $99/month (for either a community membership or 10 hours a month for a “floating desk”) all the way up to $1,250/month for a 3- to 4-person office. (Scroll down to the bottom of this page for a free day pass.)
Here are some other female-focused workspaces and communities around the country:
- The Assembly, San Francisco: “A community of creative, driven, and passionate women, special events and services, and a space to call your own”
- The Coven, Minneapolis: “a collaborative community and co-working space designed with women and non-binary folks in mind”
- EvolveHer, Chicago: “A creative workspace evolving the way women connect, cultivate & collaborate”
- HeraHub, multiple locations: “The first international female-focused coworking space & business accelerator”
- The Hivery, Mill Valley, CA (and coming soon to San Francisco): “A collaborative and creative coworking space where you can pursue your work, passions, ideas and what’s next”
So, readers, do tell: Do you think that female-focused workspaces are valuable? If you’re a member of one, are the opportunities worth the membership fees? And among the members, are various age groups and races/ethnicities represented, or is it pretty homogeneous?
Stock photo via Stencil.
Something about these places rubs me the wrong way… I feel like they are trying to profit off of feminism. They sort of remind me of the whole industry of products profiting off of pink ribbons / women’s breast cancer awareness.
I am not sure if this is relevant, but I attended an all girls high school and a women’s college – so I feel like I am the target member for these clubs. Or, maybe because I have these strong women’s networks in place already, I’m NOT their target? Unsure.
Eh I don’t really get the appeal but I also don’t ever use shared work spaces. I’ve heard some horror stories from women trying to get work done at places like WeWork. The pricing of these women-centric spaces are pretty on par with other shared work spaces. I think the target demographic is women who are sick of getting hit on while trying to get work done. If I needed a regular work space I’d definitely consider one of these but also wouldn’t rule out the more “traditional” shared workspaces. That said, the wings website is a little too “pinkified” for my taste if that makes sense/where you’re coming from.
I would seriously consider joining a women’s only workspace if I didn’t have an office (and heck, I’d probably join the Wing if I was in their cities!). The amount of BS women face when traveling alone for work at conferences/events/hotels is ridiculous. I’ve been followed at the conference hotel, harassed via email on site (obtained via the contact lists that are supposed to be used for ‘networking’), learned never ever to have just one drink at the hotel bar (or hell, any bar) while alone, etc. etc. all things that my male colleagues do without second thought. I consider myself lucky to have never had any serious issues with ubers/taxis/car service drivers yet (knock wood!). A space that is quite literally ‘safe’ while working in a large city would be worth it to me without any of the other (pretty tempting) extras the Wing offers.
I’ve visited The Coven and I’m strongly considering joining as a social member. I really enjoy the space and their amenities as well as the environment to network with other women.
I have joined female-only groups. Not to exclude people who identify as male, but to gain access to people who have successfully worked through micro-aggressions and gaslighting and have a real conversation about making personal progress. It’s a much, much more rare conversation in mainstream professional groups that shy away from addressing social biases.
It’s called “congregating”, not exclusion. If a guy attends to learn more at public sessions, great. But just like the Baptists don’t have time for someone who wants to argue for joining up with the Mormons, it’s for the benefit of the congregation, NOT a platform for whatabout-isms that subtract from the purpose of the group. If mainstream groups addressed gender-bias concerns as a point of professional integrity, I would not be pursuing better support and informal mentorship. And yes, every X years there is a report. And a presentation, action plans for change within mainstream groups are not as ubiquitous as they could be.
I went to an event at a female only club/workspace, and although I found them really well-meaning, I didn’t like that the blow-out bar took up so much space and there weren’t enough other zones/features I’d use to induce me to go frequently. I also worried that devoting a lot of networking time to a space that (because my industry is male-dominated) shut me off from 90% of the senior people in my industry was a bad move.
I visited one that had no gender specific branding, features, or perks. (It also cost a lot less than the ones featured here!) I think what I liked about a women only work space was just the absence of jostling, blustering competitive energy that generally only gets in the way of getting things done. Somehow feeling that energy in the air, even when it’s not my office and my coworkers, is just tiring.
Agree with a lot of the responses here already. As a young professional in NYC, I like the idea of places like the Wing to network with other women. That said, like another poster said, I don’t think it’s productive to *only* network with women. I would love a place like The Wing that was geared towards young professionals of both genders. I also do not like how The Wing has become increasingly left-leaning and political. Many of their events are hosting democrats running for office or other left-centric individuals. (They had Stormy Daniels speak a few weeks ago.) Although I wouldn’t call myself a republican (especially these days), I wish that was not the case at these places. I feel like you’re then limiting yourself to a very specific category of women. And like sororities in college, you are broadcasting that version of yourself by joining. For that reason, I stay away.