International Women’s Day 2014 was last Saturday, 8th March. While this important day is still fresh in our minds (well at least my mind), here are a few thoughts about women and the coworking scene. Four Melbourne inner city coworking spaces spring to mind in how they support women.
I visited Electron Workshop (EW), a funky coworking space in North Melbourne earlier this year and was impressed with their stylish yet functional converted warehouse style factory space. I also met the friendly owners Martin (Marty) Gleeson and Nick Jaffe and had a chat and a quick tour. Their coworking space opened in 2011, after they converted the old ‘Bulla’ (brand) cream factory.
‘Coworking spaces can be male dominated,
but are often female friendly nonetheless.’
As the conversation turned to the different coworking spaces that are popping up, I mentioned to Marty that I was intrigued with the name of a fairly new coworking space in Richmond called ‘Themanroom’. We pondered the wisdom of such a name, which I believe is a special term used by the founders, originally in their own home. However, I feel if they wish to attract women members, I wonder if there might be a better alternative. On that point, I’ve since noticed that there may be a name change in the wind for them. 1nerground (Anothermanroom) is a new business name listed at the same address as ‘Themanroom’. I’m still trying to track down the founders Chrystal and Nikos Psaltopoulos to find out more about this space which I’ve visited (nice vibe), but the members seemed to be enjoying one of the benefits of being self employed, they weren’t there! After all, it was a beautiful day outside. Stay tuned.
The reason I mentioned this discussion about ‘themanroom’ was because it prompted Marty to tell me that EW is very pro-women, so much so that they sponsor a desk for 3-6 months for a female, to help get more women into the ICT industry, especially at the more ‘geek’ i.e. programming/development end of the spectrum. It’s a great initiative. For more information on their ‘grant’ initiative, see link here to the grants section of their website.
EW also hosts a female focused Meetup group ‘Melbourne Drupalchix‘ (for female Drupal users) which meets at Electron Workshop on a monthly basis. EW’s support of women doesn’t end there, as they provide a desk at no charge for a couple of women who are involved with the ‘Hollaback’ global movement/project which is designed to end street harassment of women. For more information see link to the www.melbourne.ihollaback.org website here.
Electron Workshop is also currently the ‘anchor’ venue for Jelly Meetups which provide free coworking on a semi regular basis (fortnightly/monthly) on Fridays. See my post on the ‘Jelly’ scene, link here.
In late 2013, in Hub Melbourne‘s 2nd year of operation, a member survey was taken (Hub Health Index) and one thing I found interesting was that the balance of the sexes was almost even with 49% women to 51% men. Many coworking spaces tend to have a significantly higher percentage of men, due to the tech start-up/app developer focus of some of the spaces. I think the virtually even sex ratio of members at the Hub makes for a very real world and naturally balanced (co)working environment. Well done HubMelbourne for this achievement.
‘WordChicks Meetup is held at York Butter Factory‘
Inspire9 & York Butter Factory
To the credit of Inspire9 and York Butter Factory, each of these coworking spaces host a number of female focused Meetup groups, for example ‘Girl Geek Dinners Melbourne‘ at Inspire9 and ‘WordChicks‘ (a sub-group of WordPress Melbourne) is held at York Butter Factory.
It’s great to see women supported so well through the coworking community.
Cheers, Jane Deany