“If the future of work is happening in co-working spaces, it leaves a lot to be desired for women
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. “The facilities were great, but it was all a ‘Move fast and break things’ culture,” said Priya Kubar, an Indian-American entrepreneur, of her early days working in male-dominated Bay Area coworking spaces. “I believe that sustained growth is only achievable if you have a balance in life.”
Community breeds on likeness, and in this context, much like Silicon Valley, likeness means white, cis, tech bros.
Various women’s only coworking spaces have launched as alternatives to the status quo. Take The Wing, the all-women’s social and co-working club, which raised a $32 million Series B funding round in November 2017 (from WeWork) after earning its Series A of $8 million the previous April. The Wing has four locations in New York City and Washington DC, and is flocking to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, London, and Toronto soon. Men are not allowed, ever. There’s also The Assembly, San Francisco’s alternative to The Wing, which only allows female members, though men can come as guests.
According to Amy Nelson, founder and CEO of the Seattle-based coworking company, The Riveter, neither WeWork nor The Wing-style coworking spaces were sufficient. Though she experienced frequent sexism as a lawyer and political activist, Nelson knew she couldn’t do her job without interacting with men—nor did she want to block men out of her workspace. However, once she left law to become an entrepreneur, attending business classes at WeWork, Industrious, and Galvanize in Seattle, she knew she’d never thrive in community they cultivated.”