In the aftermath of the Weinstein scandal, women all over the developed world have been speaking out against harassment in the workplace in the form of the #MeToo campaign.  Some have gone as far as to seek an escape from the often-domineering presence of men in the workplace, in the form of female-exclusive work clubs and spaces.

Although our (unintentionally) all-female team at FOCUS PR succeeds spectacularly well without men, it is difficult to imagine our entire co-working space, Work.Life, as an exclusive woman-only entity.

Nevertheless, today women are challenging the long tradition of gentlemen’s clubs and male only work spaces and demanding their own.

These spaces are being championed as a safe haven from the dangers of harassment and the domination of men which prevail in many working environments. Whether it’s men being more forthright with their opinions in meetings, female employees feeling overshadowed, comparatively underpaid or just plain old sexism.

The importance of establishments such as The Wing, a female-only workspace in New York, going from strength to strength with plans to come to London, has only been reaffirmed by the Time’s Up movement and the growing awareness of how pervasive and widespread sexual harassment at work can be.

It is not surprising that the idea is also proving popular in the UK, taking into account a 2016 report by the TUC which revealed that half of all British women have been harassed at work.

The co-founder of The AllBright, a brand new all-female club in Bloomsbury, Debbie Wosskow, points out that “in 2016, only 2.17% of all capital raised went to female-led businesses and only one in six people in senior leadership positions within corporations are female”.

The AllBright aims to address the problem and act as a networking hub for professional women where they can hold meetings, host events and socialise within a female community.

However, some might accuse these spaces of perpetuating further segregation rather than solving the problem, and perhaps even label them sexist and hypocritical. Naomie Harris, actress and flagbearer for the AllBright in London, responds by saying that so many meetings are men-only and it is therefore a way of “redressing the balance.’’

“Ultimately, having single-sex spaces is not a future that any of us really want – we don’t want any form of segregation – but it seems we desperately need that. For now at least,” she says.

In response to criticism the co-founder of The Wing has said “the world is a men’s club”.

Unfortunately for many women these clubs will seem relatively inaccessible, with weighty annual fees and waiting lists. However, as the word continues to spread, other spaces for those with tighter budgets are on the rise such as We Heart Mondays, a small women-only workspace in East London offering flexible desk space starting at £24.99 a month and popular with journalists and PRs.

According to the 2017 Global Co-working Survey, the number of co-working spaces has grown from 1,130 in 2011 to a staggering 13,800 in 2017. With this in mind, combined with a growing consciousness of gender imbalances at work, we expect the way we work to look very different in the years to come.

Written by Elly Brett

Picture – Gloria Steinem & Dorothy Pitman-Hughes (source Google)

“a woman must have money and a room of her own”       

 (Virginia Woolf)