How to Attract Women to Coworking

Since Cohere opened in 2010 we’ve maintained about a 1:1 female/male ratio. We didn’t think this was odd until people started asking us, “how can you possibly attract that many women?!” Our short answer is: women beget women via word of mouth. The long answer is below…

Men might fit into the popular ideal of what a freelance digital professional looks like. But in the coworking world, women are giving this stereotype a run for its money.

The Global Coworking Survey found that “most coworkers are in their mid twenties to late thirties, with an average age of 34. Two-thirds are men, one third are women.”

But some communities exist in complete opposition to these statistics. And those spaces that are predominantly male are very interested in reaching out to connect with what some consider the untapped freelancing audience: women.

Attracting talented, motivated women to coworking must be done delicately, however. Coworking space owners must not perpetuate damaging perceptions by thinking that a few women-only events and some girly decor will do the trick.

Liz Elam of Link Coworking, a space in Austin, Texas, that enjoys a majority of female members recommends developing services that would attract any hard-working, bread-winning professional: “Coworking is very popular in Austin, women were looking for a space that they connected with and felt comfortable – Link is that space.  When women find what they want they tend to tell all their friends so word of mouth has been the primary mode of spreading the word.”

Elam credits Link’s clean, comfortable personality and an emphasis on personal connection with its ability to attract more women members than men. “I’ve visited over 20 Coworking spaces worldwide and I can tell you everything you need to know by looking at their bathrooms and kitchens. When someone comes in, greet them.  It’s very un-nerving to interrupt a work environment and first impressions make a huge difference”

For Susan Evans, community manager at Office Nomads, attracting women has more to do with the people who make up the community rather than the space itself. 

“Truthfully, I can only say that we attract women into the space by having other women in the space. I think women feel most comfortable when they’re not the only female. I’m pretty sure that it’s easier to bring women into the space when either one or more of the managers/owners/operators of the coworking space is a woman.”

Office Nomads is in a different position from Link Coworking, with only about 30 percent female members. Evans said that what might seem like obvious strategies to introduce female entrepreneurs to coworking aren’t always the smartest.

“In the earlier days, I tried to go to some women-specific networking events, but didn’t find that process all that successful. I have found the best conversations about coworking have just come up in casual conversation with friends or folks at events. I truly believe that the best source of finding other female coworkers is having our current female members out and talking to their friends.”

Rayanne Larsen of Work Spot has also found that reaching out to females in the community at large is a great way to share the message of coworking with ladies who would be an asset to the space.

“I’ve tried to work with women that are in positions in companies/organizations/government/etc. that I think are beneficial for the Work Spot,” said Larsen. “We are right across from city hall and our Mayor is a woman. I recently found out that she has been a teacher and principal for many years. I have been wanting to venture into offering classes (to again, bring more exposure to moms) and asked her to help me develop the program.  Since I don’t know the first thing about that area, partnering with someone who does and has influence offers a win-win-win situation. 

Another benefit of having women on staff and as part of your core membership is that they can help demonstrate the myriad unique ways that female professionals use coworking to meet their needs.

Women, by their very nature, wear more than one hat at any given time. Women are professionals, moms, sisters, wives, business owners, employees, teachers, students, and leaders. All at once. Finding a way to address more than one of those roles only increases the benefits of becoming involved in your community.

“One interesting (and small) group of our members (I believe one woman and one man) have come in as spouses of medical residents who have relocated to Seattle for their residency,” said Evans. “These spouses (again, not always women) often have negotiated to have flexible jobs, and as they don’t always know a lot of people in the city have enjoyed having our coworking space not only as their work-base, but as their social-base as well. ”

“I have found that I really enjoy putting people and talents together, so I take those that I meet, listen to what they have to say and see where I can bring that back to someone else,” continued Larsen.  “I try to partner with women that know things I don’t -which is a lot! I also have been able to utilize my business experience to offer advice or opinions.  (I even used my mommy talents by taking care of a member’s son for 2 hours while she conducted a client meeting in our conference room…I can’t imagine that happening over at locations owned predominately by men).”

If you’re a fairly new space, it’s important to think about positioning your brand in a way that will be appealing to members of both sexes. Shelly Leonard of Conjunctured speculates that the way the community presents itself online has a lot to do with its ability to attract female members.

“Actually, offering free day passes and making that pretty prominent on our website has helped us attract the most women,” said Leonard. “In Austin (and by looking at our membership page), I think they get the idea that coworking is primarily male so it helps to come in and actually try it out; get a feel for the space and see if they’ll fit in with the crowd.”

Quick Tips For Attracting Female Members

  • Think light, bright and clean when designing or decorating your space.
  • Approach each day as if you’re welcoming people into your home.
  • Not all events need to be about WordPress or hacking, think of what women in business are interested in!
  • Build long-term relationships with women-centric organizations and offer your space for their events.
  • Make a point to hire female staff members.
  • Empower female staffers and members to speak about coworking to their personal and professional connections.
Thanks to all the great ladies that shared their insight for this post! Now we’d like to hear what you have to say about attracting more women to the coworking community…and you don’t have to be a woman to comment :)
  • http://twitter.com/venusian_artss/status/108174051742195713 Adrian Lee

    How to attract women to coworking | Cohere Coworking Community http://t.co/RvHBHqT

  • http://twitter.com/rewordnik/status/108181234391334912 Yvette Chin

    From personal experience… a decent, non-sketchy bathroom helps. RT @deskmag: How to attract women to #coworking: http://t.co/pwU6rBu

  • http://twitter.com/eurovilles/status/108181726773248001 Eurovilles

    #Coworking How to attract women to coworking: http://t.co/m3zX2Ic RT @deskmag cc @maitegrisard @coworkingliege @ACCORTise @famactive

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  • http://twitter.com/theworkspot/status/108204266367361024 The Work Spot

    RT @GoneCoworking: @CohereLLC why female professionals love #coworking, and how to attract more women to community. http://t.co/8n9JjXn

  • http://twitter.com/projectivenyc/status/108206897819164672 Projective Space

    How some great women in coworking are getting more women to cowork: http://t.co/LnKhZ9j

  • http://twitter.com/theworkspot/status/108207557344108546 The Work Spot

    @CohereLLC ponders why female professionals love #coworking, and how to attract more women to the global community. http://t.co/yPTyGSt

  • http://twitter.com/officenomads/status/108226788408307714 Office Nomads

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  • http://twitter.com/allisonthinkbig/status/108239259869253632 Allison Way

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  • http://twitter.com/deskmag/status/108180729472630785 Deskmag

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  • http://twitter.com/linkcoworking/status/108276868238688256 Liz Elam

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  • http://twitter.com/gonecoworking/status/108203509219987457 Über Coworker

    @CohereLLC ponders why female professionals love #coworking, and how to attract more women to the global community. http://t.co/kPNCrwG

  • http://twitter.com/alexknowshtml/status/108206276663705600 Alex Hillman

    How some great women in coworking are getting more women to cowork: http://t.co/LnKhZ9j

  • http://twitter.com/coherellc/status/108326153424609280 Angel Kwiatkowski

    How to Attract Women to Coworking #coworking http://t.co/q3OciQ1

  • http://twitter.com/linkcoworking/status/108276340985298944 Liz Elam

    How to attract women to coworking | Cohere Coworking Community: http://t.co/ouzbCLo (@CohereLLC)

  • http://twitter.com/jgenzaw/status/108462682075705344 John J Genzano

    How to attract women to coworking | Cohere Coworking Community http://t.co/h9WySsV

  • http://twitter.com/hubbrussels/status/108534917473898496 The Hub Brussels

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  • http://twitter.com/isaacjnp/status/108542235297054720 Isaac Carine

    How to attract women to coworking | Cohere Coworking Community http://t.co/DZrsvmC

  • http://twitter.com/metroworkspace/status/108608713618751488 Bev Luhtanen

    How to attract women to #coworking: http://t.co/R7KH4fX via @deskmag #coworkdetroit

  • http://twitter.com/perchcoworking/status/108653981940711424 Lisa McTiernan

    @officenomads (seattle) & @linkcoworking (ATX) talk about attracting women to coworking from @coherellc (CO): http://t.co/0FjlDZl

  • http://twitter.com/officenomads/status/108668768724582401 Office Nomads

    RT @PerchCoWorking: @officenomads & @linkcoworking talk about attracting women to coworking. from @coherellc (CO): http://t.co/HieAJJJ

  • http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez/status/108841688847499264 Ramon Suarez

    How to attract women to #coworking http://t.co/rSi9CZN Via @mateusz

  • http://twitter.com/rbcammendations/status/108916642326646784 TheRebecca

    @officenomads Thanks for the RT and great article about creative women nationwide! http://t.co/urzZvSr

  • http://twitter.com/linkcoworking/status/108923747301457920 Liz Elam

    @officenomads (seattle) & @linkcoworking (ATX) talk about attracting women to coworking from @coherellc (CO): http://t.co/0FjlDZl

  • http://twitter.com/workaroundtc/status/108915460451483648 WorkAround coworking

    Large majority of our members are women.. RT @CohereLLC: How to Attract Women to Coworking #coworking http://t.co/pM9X3SX

  • http://twitter.com/coworkyyc/status/109261405001224192 coworkYYC

    What's the gender ratio at your coworking space? http://t.co/Ee4lCip

  • http://twitter.com/famactive/status/109544979239677952 fam@ctive

    Comment attirer les femmes vers le #coworking alors qu'elles ne représentent qu'1/3 des coworkers ? http://t.co/5g7iTjR #entrepreneurs

  • http://twitter.com/anathalietm/status/109548617311858689 Anathalie MUKUNDWA

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  • http://twitter.com/eworky/status/109563508844277760 eWorky

    @SoleillesCowork RT @famactive Comment attirer les femmes vers le #coworking ? http://t.co/qqYQ1Fz

  • http://twitter.com/eworky/status/109573063816908800 eWorky

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  • http://twitter.com/tosimphal/status/109585197342785536 ThoMaS SiMphaL

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  • http://twitter.com/coworkinglille/status/109590210609807360 CoworkingLille

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  • http://twitter.com/thedigitaltrace/status/109607667160465408 Nuria Torregrosa

    How to attract women to coworking | Cohere Coworking Community http://t.co/U6diCdz

  • http://twitter.com/mutineriecrew/status/109572572651339777 Mutinerie

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  • CoworkingLille

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  • http://twitter.com/thedigitaltrace/status/109607659644256256 Nuria Torregrosa

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  • http://twitter.com/carrforgovofco/status/110887218628931584 Peter J. Carr

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  • http://twitter.com/judyheminsley/status/110996380880867328 Judy Heminsley

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  • http://twitter.com/indycube/status/205664460436811776 Indycube

    RT @CohereLLC: How to Attract Women to Coworking #coworking http://t.co/1EDN3Px2 today we've only got 1 lady here. Love to hear suggestions

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