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A few days ago we published results of the Global Coworking Survey, which revealed some significant differences between female and male coworkers. We decided to dig beneath the statistics and ask some female founders of coworking spaces for their thoughts on the results. Why do women work on shorter projects and earn lower incomes, but are more content with their coworking spaces?
By Carsten Foertsch - Thursday, 27 January 2011


We conducted interviews with Angel Kwiatkowski and Katrina Pfannkuch from Cohere Coworking Community in Fort Collins, Colorado (USA) and the founder of the future Parisian Coworking Space Soleilles Cowork, Sandrine Benattar.

Deskmag: Why do you think, female coworkers work much more often in shorter projects than men?

Katrina: Most of the men at Cohere usually have full time jobs or freelance primarily with one client, whereas most of the ladies do more project-focused work overall and work with several clients. I tend to think that women do better with multi-tasking and feel more comfortable juggling several projects. I also think they enjoy the variety and thrive on the change and challenge.

Angel: I also have noticed that many of the women coworkers have multiple clients, usually more than five at once whereas the men work remotely for companies or have only one to three clients at the same time. This is why I also think that women work better when they have a lot of variety in the types of projects and clients.

Sandrine: They do not work especially on 'projects'. I think, you can't compare the way they work with that of men working on projects. They come up with a business idea and create a company, sometimes related to their passions or kids as 'mompreneurs'. Others discover their teaching skills or their ability for education and become coaches. They often create their own company after having worked for others, in order to lead their project as authentically as possible without feeling slowed down by heavy structural processes or discrimination. These are just some examples. But what I can confirm, women are more polyactive. They also have more often several professional occupations at the same time and get additional occupations during the day if they have children. This is why the flexibility of coworking spaces is valuable for them.


Deskmag: Why do women earn less income than males, even if they pay themselves as freelancers?

Katrina: Women make less money across the board, in every industry, doesn’t matter if coworking or in regular jobs. When you are talking about women who work for themselves in coworking spaces, I think it comes to a matter of negotation. Women are not as confident in these activities and tend to underprice their services overall. There are more women-run businesses that have taken hold in the last five years or so, but its still a growing segment. This could have a minimal impact on the earnings issue and coincide with one of the suggested explanations, to a degree. I think that will change in the next ten years. ?Women are also not usually the bread-winners in the family by choice, but by circumstance. In most cases men ask for more because they are still seen in this role and it’s just more expected that they would ask for more money.

Angel: I’m personally not motivated by big paychecks. I’d much rather work in a supportive, caring and innovative environment like my coworking space. Coworking spaces are still low margin businesses but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Sandrine: In general, women earn about 27% less than their male colleagues in the same occupation. We are often very good at selling other businesses, rather than our own, so there is a great interest for collaborative work. What we can do for others, we can do for ourselves with the adequate support. We believe that our coworking space is an important place to help women learn how to get to the conviction “I’m worth it” and act consequently. In our coworking space they will discover how to create more value, how to stand up for their businesses, how to develop their businesses because they are surrounded by trust, solidarity and clear business opportunities.


Deskmag: Why women prefer much more often a mixture of open and closed rooms?

Katrina: I think, men tend to want to walk into a space and get work done side by side with others in a controlled environment, and will be social when they feel the desire. Women like the possibility of the space and who they may be able to connect with at any moment throughout the work day, and a more dynamic space invites such opportunity. They tend to be more open to a changing work environment than men.

Angel: Exactly, women just like variety. They utilize the different seating options more often than the men at Cohere. In general, the male coworkers at Cohere are creatures of habit. They, more than the women, often come on the same day(s) of the week at the same time and tend to sit in at the same desk over and over again.

Sandrine: Women work in jobs which are more often based on regular communication. They need to speak on the phone, for PR jobs for instance. They need small meeting rooms, as they cannot receive clients at their home, and they sometimes need closed workspace, or conference rooms for products launch or training sessions.


Deskmag: And why do you think, female coworkers are stronger satisfied with their coworking spaces – and even come more often then male coworkers?

Angel: Coworking fits with how women are naturally. As the workforce becomes more and more mobile read: isolating women will look for ways to be around other people for collaboration, learning and socialization.

Katrina: Men are more about duty while working and staying on task to accomplish, women are more about the journey and getting it done in a way they enjoy. Being around people invites the opportunity to collaborate and grow an idea as a community, something that is a more female focused desire. The personal interaction is definitely a huge value and thus why women are more focused on the "holistic experience" of coworking and not so much just on the earning power differences.

Sandrine: A woman working at home is considered quite differently than her husband working outside the home. Let me illustrate this purpose through a personal experience I had with my son who is a young adolescent: “Mummy, instead of working on your project for women, why don’t you go and get me some chocolate spread?” My experience is not an isolated one. Mine clearly pushed me to go out and get a nice professional space to share with other women and I’m sure that there are many out there seeking for such a space to express their potential.


Deskmag: Thanks for the interview!



Related articles to the Global Coworking Survey:

Part 4: Female coworkers vs. male coworkers


Start: Why coworkers like their coworking spaces

Part 1: What coworkers want

Part 2: The Coworker's Profile

Part 3: The Coworking Space

Part 5: Coworkers in the U.S.

Part 6: MacOS vs. Windows - Firefox vs. Chrome

Part 7: Small Town vs. Big City Coworking

Part 8: The Non-Coworkers

Part 9: North America vs. Europe

Part 10: The changing needs of coworkers over time

ssfCoworking Statistics