There are more female entrepreneurs than ever and our numbers are growing every year. With this rise in women-led entrepreneurship, there has also been a rise in female-only workspaces, and it’s becoming more and more clear why these are critical to the success of female business leaders everywhere.
When it comes to business, women-only workspaces are a relatively new concept, but their benefits are countless. Serving as an antidote to male-dominated boardrooms, these types of spaces create the opportunity for women to be a part of a community and collaborate with others in a safe and relatable way. It’s hard to be an entrepreneur, but being a female business leader is a unique challenge on its own. Women-only workspaces can help us combat these challenges and create companies that match our vision.
Female entrepreneurship is a difficult road.
Though female-led companies have increased by more than 55% since 2008, women-run businesses still attract only 2% of all venture funding in the U.S. and the U.K. It’s incredibly hard — as a female business owner — to fully realize your visions; but it’s also a lonely road that can be hard to navigate without appropriate support.
As a female business leader, securing access to funding is only one of the regular hardships you are likely to encounter. Women who start businesses also experience a number of other unique challenges, which include defying social expectations, balancing work and family life, and finding a support network that shares their understandings and goals.
Female entrepreneurs also struggle to be taken seriously, finding themselves in male-dominated industries that don’t take the time to acknowledge their point of view, hard work or accomplishments. This — in turn — can feed our fear of failure, and even cause us to struggle with owning our own accomplishments; a critical part of any business owner’s journey.
In 2017, TechCrunch released a study that contained some surprising revelations. Primarily, it revealed that — though women-led companies are on the rise — they still comprise only 17% of major startups. While this can show us many things, it proves one majorly overlooked aspect of female entrepreneurship: it’s a lonely road.
There is a direct correlation between entrepreneurial loneliness and burnout, making these factors dangerous to the budding business person. As an entrepreneur, you have to pour every bit of yourself into your business, and this can cause a real isolating split in women who (many of which) also have the needs of home to contend with. Starting a business is a hard road, but it’s a lonely one too — and that’s where female-only workspaces come in.
The female-only workspace
As the number of female founders continues to rise, so too has the idea of women-only workspaces. In these areas, solopreneurs and businesswomen can come together to share resources, sense of community and support — aiding one another through common knowledge, skills or general all-around understanding and compassion. These spaces — first used in the US and Sweden — have a number of other surprising benefits, though, each of which is critical to the blossoming female entrepreneur.
Establishing a support network
Many women find women-only workspaces as a great means to establish the support networks they need to succeed. In these spaces, they can be more open and share more of their experiences, and they might feel more visible or more able to reach out for help when it’s needed. Women-only workspaces allow women to focus and disconnect in a way that they can’t at home or in the midst of gender-distracted office space.
Though we might have a considerable amount of freedom compared to our foremothers, it can still be hard to get an entirely male-dominated office. Female-focused workspaces allow women to drop the intimidation factor and feel more relaxed, something which may actually aid in their productivity and performance overall. This is also an invaluable asset for our transgendered sisters within the community, who also experience incredible hardship and discrimination in and out of the standard business workplace or setting.
Getting that “yes”
Contrary to what many might claim, female-only workspaces aren’t about exclusion; they’re about inclusion and giving businesswomen that permission to thrive that they so desperately need. Women struggle to find spaces which are entirely their own, yet research shows that they perform better when that’s the case. One such study showed that — when attending a same-sex school — 75% of young women graduated with superior grades, versus just 55% in mixed-gender schools…