The Wing, the women-only space that opened in NYC this past October from co-founders Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan, had some women asking, do we still need female-only spaces?
Of the space's intention Gelman told Forbes, “The space is food by women, wine by women, designed by women, our lawyer is a woman. Basically, every inch of the space is the product of the minds of self-identifying women. You feel that."
Similarly, The WW Club (The Working Women's Club) founded by Phoebe Lovatt, is a space for working women worldwide. They host global events and have a strong online community, hosting group chat mentor sessions with boss women like Viceland's Executive Creative Director, Amel Monsur. And yet, in an very forthright Instagram post yesterday, Lovatt wrote, "I'll be 100% honest. Just last Saturday, I was speaking with friends about the future of The WW Club...about whether a gendered 'space' could still be considered a relevant need in the west in 2016 (and beyond), given the rapid strides that women seemed to be making in all spheres."
There was a pause in the text. "How naive," she wrote. Lovatt went on to say, "I just didn't realise how much of it [work] was still left to be done."
Lovatt is, of course, referring to the upset heard 'round the world on Tuesday night. #Election2016. What was presumed by all media and pollsters would be a night celebrating the breaking of ceilings and the ushering in of the country's first female President, became for many, a breaking of hearts.
As a female founder, Jaclyn Johnson, founder of Create & Cultivate, which has a predominantly female demographic (though men do attend and occasionally speak on panel), has many times experienced the pendulum swing of the gender issue. Moments where it feels like everything is going to work out great and others that call for stiff drink, a recharge siesta, and a game plan. For many, this moment in history feels like the latter and has women championing the need of female identifying-only spaces as spaces for positive collective action.
"I’ve seen the clouds parting," says Jaclyn, "with more women at the helm of large budgets and leading prominent companies. Which is why it’s important for more women to excel in the financial aspects of running a business, especially funding, investing and raising money so we can help balance the gender inequality."
It's why spaces like The Wing, The WW Club, Create & Cultivate, and countless others remain vital. They give female founders and entrepreneurs the space to flourish, to dole out advice to those just starting out, and to network with new like-minded contacts.
"While the women-in-business movement is strong," Jaclyn says, "a 'girls’ club' has also formed, and the responsibility is now on female CEOs and others in powerful positions to give opportunities to deserving female entrepreneurs."
"But this girls’ club won’t usher in the gender inequalities that I've faced in the past," she notes. "Instead, it will be an opportunity to mentor young women looking for guidance and empower women-owned businesses."
It's not about keeping the boys about. It's about lifting other women up with both emotional and intellectual support.
So, will the girls’ club be the new boys’ club?
It’s on us to make it happen.