Would you prefer a women-only work space?

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Hera Hub in San Diego

By Sabrina Almeida

Ever wished for a female-only work space? Your dream could soon become a reality!

A relatively-new New York club exclusively for women, “Wing”, has initiated a dialogue about the benefits of having a she-only work space and the clamour for it is getting louder.

Imagine a work environment without a glass ceiling and the scrutiny and catcalls of male co-workers. Liberating, isn’t it? You wouldn’t have to stress over what you wore, how you spoke or sat. You could focus solely on work.

Kind of like the gender segregated schools many of us went to back in the day. Only I’m not so sure that being in a girl’s school was our preference at the time. In fact, most couldn’t wait to get out of it.

While Wing is not just a co-working space for women but a social club of sorts as well, the idea and value of female-only co-work spaces is gaining traction. SheWorks Collective in Manhattan, New Women Space in Brooklyn, Hera Hub in Phoenix, Southern California, Washington, D.C., and Stockholm, and Broadspace in Wanneroo, Perth are testimony to a growing movement.

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With most women having experienced some form of sexual harassment or discrimination at work—whether it is misogynistic jokes, innuendos, groping or direct propositions and being passed over for promotions—the prospect of not having to share work space with men at all brings a collective sigh of relief… And the hope that finally you’d be judged for your skills and experience and not your physical endowments.

Companies might also delight in the idea that less time and money will be spent in resolving disputes steming from sexual and gender-based harassment. Research indicates that the typical Fortune 500 firm can spend $6,700,000 per year (or $280 per employee) on legal fees related to these disputes.

Those in favour wax eloquent about the professional advantages of this new type of “friendly yet focused, collaborative and supportive” work environment with the option to socialize or not. The founders of this new type of workplace are united in their philosophy of shattering the glass ceiling, and giving men a taste of their own medicine perhaps.

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I’m good with the mantra! However, having worked in an almost all-female (the one male co-worker was literally part of the woodwork) establishment I can only say, be careful what you wish for!

I have seen and experienced the not-so pleasant side of having too much estrogen (pardon the cliché) in your work space. I’d like to think being 20-something single women put a different spin on our attitude then. Perhaps we are more nurturing and supportive now. It is ‘one’ experience but it taught me the lesson of a lifetime—it’s preferable and wise to mix it up!

Sharing a work space with only women doesn’t insulate you from the workplace rivalry and jealousy or criticism that’s inherently human. In fact, the sisterhood can be more vicious than men.

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I’m also not in favour of any form of segregation and separatism and believe them to be unhealthy. That is why I am uncomfortable with current trends—women-only gyms, swimming classes… and now work spaces. I thought we fought to sit at the same table not have your own.

I also hate stereotypes… especially pink. It’s like the estrogen cliché.

Having hobnobbed with many successful and strong women who have made it in the so-called ‘man’s world’, I don’t think this 1950’s attitude is progressive or necessary.

After all we want to teach our girls that they more than equal and not just when they are separate. More importantly, that they can inspire respect and admiration irrespective of their gender and appearance.

The advocacy of gender separatism in any form perpetuates the belief that men and women ‘should be’ treated differently because of their biological  differences.

How is that acceptable or right? – CINEWS

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