Women Only: How Spaces Support Women in Business

Women working in an office

A while back, we wrote about why some female workers prefer to use women-only workspaces. Since then, we’ve seen a steady rise on the number of female-only workspaces in the US and in other countries.

At the beginning of this year, Forbes published an article about why 2015 would be a good year for women entrepreneurs. Among the eleven reasons they give there’s the fact that women entrepreneurs are becoming more visible and that men are willing to take some kind of action when they are aware of the gender gap.

Within our industry, gender-specific coworking spaces have played an important role in helping women thrive professionally. Some have found in these spaces the support they needed to move forward or the environment necessary for them to be able to focus and disconnect from their home-life.

Yet, while some believe that women can only get the necessary support and encouragement they need from other women, others believe that men also have much to contribute.

We talked with two spaces that share the mission of reducing the gender gap that exists in the startup industry and of increasing business opportunities for women, but both have different approaches and visions of how their spaces can accomplish this.  

Michaela Anchan, founder of Woolf Works in Singapore, recognizes how “women working together have a fantastic energy – a supportive and deeply caring energy that is just wonderful to work amongst.”

Woolf Works was born when Michaela experienced first-hand the need for a space that would allow women to juggle business with raising a family successfully. Though we are far away from the 70s myth of a perfect housewife, it remains a fact that it’s women–for the most part–who are in charge of caring for the family.

“We have seen an increase in women only spaces. I believe it ties with the growth of women entrepreneurs and also a movement of women who are now valuing and prioritizing their work more than before.” Yet, Michaela stresses how “women entrepreneurs are still incredibly under represented in funding circles; women in corporate are still missing from boardrooms.”

Woolf Works seeks to provide a space where women can find support and encouragement to pursue their dreams. It’s about offering a quiet, peaceful, and beautiful place that nurtures and inspires women to be productive.

For the time being, Woolf Works plans to stay gender-specific. Michaela emphasizes that this decision has nothing to do with excluding men, but that it stems from the fact that it’s women–particularly mothers–who need to escape to a workspace that helps them find and establish a work-life balance.

”When women are treated equally, and when men start taking over more family care roles, then perhaps we will no longer need a single gender space.”

But what about men? How do they feel about this? Is it fair to assume that if women need their own space, men do too? What if there was a men-only coworking space, how would we women take it?

There are plenty of work spaces that welcome women-only as their way of supporting females in the business world. However, we found a female-founded space that uses a different approach to help women make it professionally–without excluding men.

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Women Led Ventures (WMN) is a coworking space that opened this year in Yarid Hamizrach in the Tel Aviv Port. Founder Merav Oren shares with us that her mission is to make WMN a game changer for women entrepreneurs without excluding men from the equation.

WMN reaches out and looks specifically for women, but unlike other spaces that do this, they do accept and welcome men in their space. That is, as long as these men fulfill the one criteria of having at least one woman in a leading role–either co-founder or CEO–of their business.  

There’s no doubt that women are still underrepresented in the business spectrum, however, is it really necessary for us to have spaces free of men? Afterall, if businesses are missing 50% of the talent by not hiring women, couldn’t the same apply to workspaces that accept only women as members?

Much thought usually goes into picking out a location from which to work from. As women, it’s quite agreeable that we get to choose with which gender we want to share our professional lives. In the end, it runs down to the fact that it has a lot to do with personality and where we feel more comfortable–and this applies to both genders.

 

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