The Women in Digital Lounge is introducing a new concept to Central Ohio coworking: a women-only space for members of the group that brings together women in marketing, advertising, communications and media professions.
Women in Digital Founder and Executive Director Alaina Shearer knows the space might come with its controversies.
“I think that the response from every individual will awaken how they feel about this issue,” Shearer says.
Whether they loathe it or love it, how a person reacts will say something about their stance on modern day sexism. Shearer says that many women are in denial that sexism is still costing them job opportunities and higher salaries – and she used to be one of them.
As for men, “They either 100 percent support it and get it immediately, or they react with great defense,” she says.
Shearer welcomes the necessary conversations that are sparked in response to the women-only group, and now, coworking space.
“I love that we are making a statement, but that’s so secondary to the primary goal,” she says.
The primary goal of the coworking space is to provide women in the organization a safe and productive space to meet with one another, host other meetings or gatherings (still, no men or children allowed) and get down to work.
The office located at the Women in Digital headquarters, 5 Liberty St. in Powell, will accommodate a private meeting room and 1,200 square feet of lounge-style coworking space. There’s flexibility in the use and Shearer is curious to see how members will take advantage of the space, adding that Women In digital will create some programming for the office as well.
Women in Digital members will be the first test-group for the space.
“If there is a huge demand for a coworking space like this, we’ll roll out a broader concept for the wider Columbus community and expand to additional cities,” says Shearer.
She’ll be looking for signs like a full house and daily use to know when it’s time to expand. If the coworking space increases membership, more Women in Digital members could be invited into the fold. With enough positive reception, the concept might open to the general public but stay women-only.
Founded in Columbus in June of 2016 with the mission to “empower each other by creating a national network of women in digital unlimited in our potential to meet individual and collective goals,” Women In Digital has expanded to 17 cities across the U.S. The group historically excludes men from all of its events, expect the Annual Conference, where 4 percent of seats are reserved for men – the same percentage of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies held by women.
Shearer says the women-only gatherings create a more nurturing, empathizing community environment.
“The no men thing works so well, we thought why not try it out in a more permanent physical space?” says Shearer. “We’re really not sure what will happen, but we’re willing to take that small risk to find out if something like this interests our members.”
For more information, visit womenin.digital.