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Female-Focused Coworking on The Rise

Women-Centric Spaces Pop Up Coast to Coast
October 2, 2018

As social and professional lives blur, female-centric coworking companies are quickly expanding across the country.



Stacey Taubman is working to open a second location of her almost two-year-old women-centric coworking company called Rise Collaborative, one of a fast-growing number of female-focused shared office space providers across the United States.

Taubman, a former high school math teacher in St. Louis, said she discovered a need for female-focused office space several years ago. The revelation came as she interviewed more than 300 women to be part of a tutoring and mentorship company for teen girls that she developed following the suicide of one of her female students.

The result was Rise Collaborative, a shared workspace provider aimed at women-led businesses that opened its first location in St. Louis in February 2017. Now, she’s planned another location to open in Denver next year.

Stacy Taubman will open a second Rise Collaborative location in Denver; Photo credit: Rise Collaborative



"It’s common for women in business to crave connections with other women who inspire and understand them," she said of the St. Louis office. "These ambitious and successful women are also looking for opportunities to grow personally and professionally."

Women-centric co-working companies are in vogue in tech-friendly markets across the country right now, though they have sparked some concern whether it's fair to favor one sex in creating workplaces. The Wing, perhaps the best-known of these, opened its first location at roughly the same time as Rise and has been on a growth tear ever since, completing a round of funding in fall 2017 led by international co-working giant WeWork that raised $32 million.

Reliable data on female-centric coworking spaces is hard to come by, but the number of these companies is growing, as is the list of cities where they can be found.

The Riveter, The Hivery and Hera Hub are a few of the other female-oriented coworking spaces that have opened in markets such as Southern California, Washington, D.C., Seattle and New York City as the co-working trend has grown in recent years.

Taubman said she plans to open her second location, at 730 Colorado Blvd. in Denver, because the pool of women who could benefit from a female-centric coworking space is even larger in Denver than it is in St. Louis.

St. Louis has 72,000 women business owners with no employees, Taubman said. Denver has 88,000.

The 10,000-square-foot space in Denver is expected to include 14 private offices, free parking, three conference rooms and other amenities. Applications for the space can be submitted beginning Oct. 1.

Taubman said she considered as many as 10 other cities when looking for a second spot to open one of her coworking spaces. She plans to open the Denver office and immediately get to work fundraising to roll out in other markets she had considered.

In general, female-focused coworking offices cater to women who fall into two camps, said Kay Sargent, senior principal and director of workplace at HOK, the St. Louis-based engineering and architecture firm.

Generally, there are some coworking spaces that cater to working moms and others that cater to women who either don’t have children or for whom childcare is not a concern, Sargent said.

"Some women in fields that tend to be male-centric don’t like the pressure of that," Sargent said. "There’s camaraderie. They want to be able to relate to people with the same challenges. They can support each other."

Finding ways to make the workplace more female-friendly has tremendous potential in a national economy where the unemployment rate is less than 4 percent and companies are struggling to find workers, Sargent said.

"They’re supporting lifestyle choices that women want to make," she said. "There’s a workforce shortage, and there are a lot of highly educated women who want to work. They’re trying to find alternatives. Women want more options, more choices, more things that are responsive to needs and changes."

On the other hand, Sargent said, diverse workplaces are often catalysts for better ideas and more productive staffs.

"It’s the idea of ‘if you want to be included, don’t segregate yourself,’" Sargent said. "If you’re doing it to avoid something, you’re not addressing what the core problem is."

But, if the idea is to create a like-minded community where ideas can flow and work and life can blend together, Sargent said, gender-specific co-working spaces have a place. They can help women find their circle.

"We used to be able to find community outside of work," Sargent said. "There is a huge blending between our personal and professional lives. We’re working more and that’s infiltrated our personal lives. For people who want to blend work and personal, female-centric can be a great solution to that."

But the concerns about gender-specific workspaces can go beyond social and professional realms into the legal arena.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights began investigating The Wing earlier this year over its women-only policy. Rules vary by state, but in New York, The Wing argues that as a private club, it is not subject to public accommodation laws.

Most female-focused co-working spaces don’t disallow men, Rise Collaborative included.

"Our spaces are female-friendly, but men are allowed," Taubman said. Some of the companies in the St. Louis Rise have male employees, she said, but the companies are run by women.

And still, perhaps the most important piece of what goes on at Rise focuses on young women and helping them discover their paths in life.

Rise Collaborative’s nonprofit arm, Rise Society, enrolls high school girls in a mentorship program that matches them with an adult member of Rise Collaborative who can provide advice and support about career and personal interests.

"We believe that you can’t be what you can’t see," Taubman said. "We are creating a pipeline for success by providing a collaborative space for teen girls to engage with smart, strong, successful women who want to give back to the next generation."

Molly Armbrister, Denver Market Reporter  CoStar Group   
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