Women-only coworking spaces were one of the first coworking niches to come onto the market, and by far, the most popular niche coworking space today.
Designed to support the unique needs of women, these workspaces come complete with networking events, keynote speakers from female entrepreneurs, and morning meditation sessions before work.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the rise of women-only coworking spaces including what they are and the benefits they offer females in the workforce.
What is a women’s only coworking space?
Women-only coworking spaces are workspaces specifically designed for women.
They often come with amenities and events curated especially to support the unique needs of women. Some of these coworking spaces are female-focused, allowing membership from men, while others are female-only.
The goal of women-only coworking spaces is to cultivate strong communities where women can come together, learn from one another, and empower each other to grow and excel in a professional environment.
A history of women in the workspace
Workplaces have traditionally been considered and continue to be male-dominated spaces. Although women now make up about 47% of the workforce, they often still face unique challenges in work environments such as sexual harassment, sexism, gender biases, and other challenges.
These challenges along with unique, differentiated values and offerings are part of what’s driven women to look for workspaces created with them in mind.
What was the first women’s only coworking space?
The first women’s only coworking space was Hera Hub, which opened in 2011. It was one of only a few hundred coworking spaces in the world at the time and made history as the first coworking space designed for women.
According to Hera Hub Founder, Felena Hanson, the space was specifically aimed at “giving women entrepreneurs and freelancers a space to connect and collaborate, in a unique, spa-inspired setting”.
Since then, thousands of coworking spaces for women have opened across the world, each with their own unique spin on supporting women in the workplace.
Some of the more notable spaces through the years have included The Coven, Make Lemonade, and The Wing. Although some of these spaces are no longer operational, they’ve played a very important role in shaping how the industry thinks about women-only coworking spaces.
Benefits of coworking spaces for women
Women’s only coworking spaces have emerged as a space to promote gender equality and foster a sense of community among professional women.
These spaces offer a safe and supportive environment where women can work, network, and collaborate with each other. In turn, women can advance their careers and build a supportive network of peers.
Some of the benefits of working in a women-only coworking space include:
- Offers a community of other women in business: being one of the only women at work can be hard. Women’s only spaces offer women a community of other women to learn from and grow with.
- Unique networking and learning opportunities: coworking spaces for women offer unique programs designed especially for women, such as a speaking spot from Hillary Clinton.
- Enhanced culture: women often cite that their favorite thing about women’s only spaces is the culture they experience, one that is created by the positive community of support around them.
- Unique amenities and services: More on this in the section below!
Overall, many women report experiencing enormous benefits from female-focused coworking spaces.
Amenities for women’s only coworking spaces
One of the greatest perks of coworking spaces for women is the unique amenities offered.
While all of the typical coworking amenities are usually offered, these spaces tend to include other unique services that cannot be found in other spaces, like nursing rooms or female mentorship opportunities.
The goal of providing these amenities is to not only support women but to improve overall member retention while building a community of like-minded people. Some of these amenities include:
- Nursing room
- On-site childcare
- Mental or physical health services
- Female mentorship opportunities
- Keynote speaking events from women in business
- Healthy snacks or complimentary tea and coffee
- Morning yoga or meditation sessions
Examples of coworking spaces for women
Optix is proud to power a number of female-focused coworking spaces. These spaces are building thriving communities of powerful women in the workplace and we’re excited to feature them and their spaces.
Salon22 is a member-based coworking space for women located in Louisiana. It was founded by four women with a shared goal of “shifting the balance of power” in the vibrant city of New Orleans.
Salon22 offers women an inclusive space to work regardless of age, race, or gender identity. Amenities include health workshops, career coaching, healthy snacks, and happy hours where women can connect with one another across complimentary beverages.
“We’re intent on creating a beautiful space for like-minded women from all walks of life to find commonality, belonging, and opportunities for political, professional, and personal collaboration.”Salon22
Elevate Coworking is the first coworking and shared office space in Wilmington, North Carolina created specifically for women. Some of their amenities include unlimited coffee, zen phone booths, and 24/7 access.
They also offer a 150-square-foot photo studio that can be booked on-demand to support the creatives in their space. This photo studio comes complete with natural lighting and access to professional equipment and is offered at an additional cost to members.
“We set out to create a place where women could show up exactly as they are, feel comfortable and supported by their local community, and reconnect with their passion and purpose.”Elevate Coworking
Korédé House is a women-focused and family-focused coworking space opening in Spring 2023. Their goal is to cultivate a community complete with joyful art expressions and mental and physical wellness support.
They will also be incorporating childcare into their coworking space with childminding offered on weekdays and weekends to further support their members.
“Korédé house is a place away from the stressors of your daily lives. A place to belong to a community of like-minded locals in your similar life-stage.”Korédé House
Considerations of starting a coworking space for women
Understand the legality of creating a women-only space
A few years ago, the American Civil Liberties Union reported on the legality of creating a workspace that prohibits anyone other than women to join.
Their conclusion was that while women-only coworking spaces are not in violation of any particular law, it’s important to consider who may be excluded when such a space is created.
Because of this, many spaces consider themselves to be female-focused, rather than female-only, and open their space up to anyone who wants to join with an understanding that it is designed to be an inclusive space for women+.
Inclusivity and creating a safe space are key
Coworking spaces should always be open and inclusive, but this becomes even more important when creating a female-focused space.
Consider ways that you can go above and beyond in supporting the community to create a safe space, whether that’s creating detailed house rules that outline community behavior policies or conducting regular anonymous surveys to understand how women are feeling in the environment.
Think about how you’re going to cultivate a community
Community is the heart and soul of women-only spaces. As an operator, you’ll be tasked with cultivating this community and bringing women together to learn from one another.
There are many ways you can do this, from hosting coworking events to engaging speakers. One way that Optix supports our female-focused spaces is by enabling them with the technology they need to connect members with one another.
Members can use the Directory to find individuals in the space with shared interests, while direct Messaging capabilities allow them to begin to build meaningful relationships online and offline.
Women-only coworking spaces are an important part of the coworking ecosystem, and we’re proud to support them. Learn more about how Optix can support your female-focused coworking space.