MINNEAPOLIS — Entering the year-old workspace ModernWell feels like coming into a comfortable spa. Clean lines give way to cozy touches like footstools covered with faux fur and a roaring fire surrounded by comfortable armchairs. Women type away on laptops at tables scattered throughout.
There is not a man in sight.
ModernWell is one of a growing number of women-only and women-focused workspaces around the country. While many predate the #MeToo movement, their growth has been interlinked with it as it put combating workplace harassment on the national agenda. They’re also tapping into a desire among many women to build a community and supportive environment at work that’s different from a stereotypical corporate workplace culture.
The spaces provide more than just desks and a coffee machine. They offer programs like high-profile speakers or yoga classes, and a chance to build a social and business network with like-minded women. It’s like WeWork, minus the beer on tap and tech bro atmosphere.
“I think women, especially, are craving safe spaces where they can go and be inspired and do really important work without interruption, and without being reminded of all that, too. There’s literally no risk that somebody’s going to sexually harass me here,” said Renee Powers, a ModernWell member who founded her business, Feminist Book Club, in the space.
The biggest player is The Wing , which opened in 2016 in New York and has been expanding rapidly across the country. Its San Francisco location opened in October with a nod to the #MeToo movement, naming a conference room after Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before Congress that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in high school.
Membership to use one location costs $2,350 annually, and the company now has more than 6,000 members, spokeswoman Zara Rahim said.
Most of the spaces allow men, but some do not.