It started with a simple question.
In celebration of International Coworking Day 2016. Laura Shook Guzman, founder of Soma Vida, the first coworking space in Texas and first wellness space in the world, started a discussion about women-founded coworking spaces in the Coworking Google Group.
Laura wanted to connect with other female founders and operators and find out how they fit into the story of coworking. Existing timelines of the movement had, what she has described as “a very strong his-story and there wasn’t a lot of her-story.”
Laura knew women were doing incredible work in the movement but she didn’t know how to find them.
The question generated enormous interest and caught the attention of Iris Kavanagh, the first NextSpace employee and founder of Coworking with Iris. Iris reached out to Laura to be a guest on her podcast and the two connected immediately. They started making plans for what would become Women Who Cowork.
A Global Community of Women Who Cowork
Three years later, Women Who Cowork is a global community of female coworking space operators, community managers and professionals. They have connected more than 700 space operators in an online community, launched the first online coworking map of women owned spaces across the world, hosted three retreats in two countries, created a directory of women-owned coworking spaces and now have Women Who Cowork memberships, which include monthly calls and discounted products and services.
The Women Who Cowork website also hosts profiles of women founders to spotlight the women building the communities. As Iris explains, “So often women take a backseat to the work of others. We want the women of the coworking movement to be seen for the amazing work they do.”
Celebrating the Women of the Coworking Movement
At its center, Women Who Cowork is a celebration of women in the coworking movement.
Anecdotally, women have been driving coworking since its early days, but there was no data to back that up. Now the Coworking Survey has found that two-thirds of people working in coworking spaces are women. That same data, however, also surfaced the fact that only one-third of spaces are founded or owned by women, and women are generally paid less than men to work in coworking spaces.
As the workspace industry grows and consumes the commercial real estate sector, Women Who Cowork remains committed to the coworking movement, with its core values of community, openness, collaboration, accessibility and sustainability.
Women Who Cowork has proposed adding “inclusion” to the core values, as creating more diverse and inclusive coworking communities is key to furthering both coworking and the Women Who Cowork mission to bring gender parity to the movement.
Driven by Community
Women Who Cowork was launched by Iris and Laura, but it is a community-driven network and resource co-created by the global community and the growing number of women who are official members of Women Who Cowork.
Membership is available at two tiers: Community and Connector. Both offer access to Iris, Laura and the other members. The mastermind calls are available to the Connector Members. The Community members have access to the Facebook Live Q&A’s. These calls are invaluable to space operators, coaches and consultants as they bring women together to connect, problem solve, generate ideas and support one another. The first Women Who Cowork call took place in early-August. The next one is scheduled for September 5.
In October, Women Who Cowork will host its fourth retreat, in Toronto, Canada. The event aligns with GCUC Canada and promises to be a time for space operators to slow down, do some self care, and reconnect with themselves and each other. The retreat also offers a mastermind day, making the retreat a business-building event as well as a recharge event. Learn more and get your ticket.
To get access to monthly calls, discounted services, member perks and more, become a Women Who Cowork member today.