Have you heard of The Wing? It’s a quickly expanding women-only coworking space and social club with locations in New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, soon to be setting up shop in London, Paris, and Toronto.
And The Wing is just one example of women-only coworking spaces popping up across the U.S. and around the world. These spaces encourage women’s career advancement, leadership, collaboration, and community.
Read on to find out why women-only coworking spaces are on the rise and explore whether one of these workspaces may be a good option for you.
If you’re familiar with coworking at all, you’ll have heard of WeWork. It is worth an estimated $35 billion, and has 268,000 members working out of 212 offices globally. Its explosive growth over the last eight years highlights that coworking spaces aren’t just for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and creatives, but also for nonprofit organizations and full-time staff.
“The workplace is changing and quickly embracing more flexible and remote working models,” says Sej Pandya, events director at the newly-established women-only coworking hub Luminary in New York City. “We’re seeing the rise of these spaces for many reasons: real estate costs and availability, lack of space in existing offices, and employees looking for more flexibility but also more options and amenities. Companies and organizations want to increase loyalty and employee fulfillment, so they are figuring out ways to accomplish that.”
It makes sense that since the way we work is changing, we need spaces where we can get our work done. As Pandya sees it, women-only spaces are a push for social progress.
“It’s not just about co-working,” states Pandya. “It’s about community. Historically, we’ve seen men’s clubs and coworking spaces filled with more men than women. It’s evident that we have a lot of work to do to reach gender parity in the workplace and … women are seeking strong communities [where they can] have complex and nuanced conversations … as well as career opportunities. Spaces for women are paramount to creating safe environments.”
For all the promise women-only coworking spaces have, it isn’t without controversy: some detractors say that women-only coworking spaces are discriminatory.
“It’s problematic when you shut men out of the collaborative process,” says Pandya. “At Luminary, membership is women-focused, but we welcome men into the space for specific programming and events, as well as [for] meetings with our members. We developed the space so that we could include men. They are on this journey with us and are a big part of the workforce and our careers. We have to work together.”
Men may not be able to gain total access or membership to women-only coworking spaces, but there does seem to be some leeway when it comes to stand-alone events meant to educate and empower individuals. It’s also important to note that these women-only spaces aim to include other marginalized groups, like gender non-binary members.
“The coworking space is for women at any level in [their] career to collaborate and network with one another,” notes Pandya. “That can [include] an entry-level woman or a senior C-suite [executive]. If you’re looking to build a community, these are the types of places to help do that.”
For all the amazing amenities and opportunities a coworking space offers, joining a women-only coworking space is an investment, albeit a worthwhile one if you take full advantage of what’s available.
As Pandya sees it, there are three factors to consider when deciding to join a coworking space:
1. Define your goals and what you would like to get out of the coworking arrangement.
2. Understand the benefits and the opportunities available to you at the space.
3. Make sure it makes sense for you financially.
- At The Wing, there’s an application process and if you’re accepted, the membership fee—paid annually—costs either $2,350 or $2,700, depending on whether you want access to a single location or to all locations.
- There’s no application process to become a member of The Coven, Seattle- and Los Angeles-based The Riveter, or Luminary.
- The Coven offers either a monthly membership at $200 or an annual one at $2,200.
- A monthly membership at The Riveter starts at $375 for a floating desk at their Seattle location or $450 at one of their Los Angeles locations.
- Luminary offers monthly individual memberships from $200 to $400 and annual memberships from $2,100 to $4,300. It also has a 20% discount for nonprofit employees and New York City teachers.
- The Coven, The Riveter, and Luminary also have additional options like day passes, and part-time and other flexible arrangements.
Ultimately, Pandya states, “Investing in a space like this is a personal decision—it needs to make sense [for] you.”
There are other women-only coworking spaces that may be of interest to you. If you’re seriously considering becoming a member of one, focus on what your goals and needs are and which space is the best, most affordable option that will support you.
What is the single most important factor that would convince you to join a coworking space?