What the future of work for women really looks like

What is it that women really want?  

Hi! My name is Adrian Landstrom, and this past summer I was one of three interns at CoWomen. I’m a third year public health student at the University of Texas at Austin.

Interning at CoWomen was a big leap for me – flying across the country, not knowing anyone, having my first business-y kind of job – it was a lot to take in. But, when I got to CoWomen, all of those nerves faded away. The space had an instant feeling of support and encouragement from all the kickass (wo)men here who are absolutely changing the world, the team, and the members. 10/10 would recommend it! 

During my internship, I focused on research about diversity and inclusion, planning some future (and very exciting!) projects for CoWomen. Scrolling through endless articles and research journals, I confirmed a few things I already knew in my heart: female representation, especially in leadership positions, is still lacking. Increasing that number would lead to so many benefits, monetary and not, for companies, the economy, and society. In all of my research, I noticed one idea missing. What is it that women actually want in a workplace, and is that really different from what men want?

The future of work survey

As one of my internship projects, I created, sent out, and analyzed a survey, titled the future of work, asking this very question. My objective was to identify what is lacking in the workplace for the retention of women. In the end, I got fifty-five responses across multiple countries, fields, ages, and genders. Unsurprisingly, everyone ranked feeling appreciated and valued as the most important factor in choosing or staying at a job. I think that speaks to our most instinctual human needs, and is common across all people of all backgrounds. Past that, the results got more interesting!

For instance, men valued things such as benefits. Women, however, placed high importance on work-life balance, family accommodations, and a mission that fits with their values and passions. Looking at this, I have to wonder whether this originates from true differences by gender, societal conditioning for women as caretakers and men as the breadwinners, or something entirely different. However, that is a very complicated question for another time! Maybe even for another CoWomen internship? 

I included the rest of the results below for all those other stats geeks like myself. But, please keep in mind that these results are generalizations. Not every man or woman is the same, nor do they value the same things in the workplace. 

The future of work survey results
The future of work survey results.

Bidding adieu!

Throughout this whole internship and in my experience at CoWomen, I saw rising women who are ready to make big moves in their careers and the lives of others. Unfortunately, I also saw a lot of waiting on their workplaces to support them in their goals. But, sometimes that leads them to places like CoWomen! Places where they can seek the extra inspiration, tools, and support to reach their full leadership potential. That’s exactly what the Female Leadership Circle at CoWomen is doing: to change the future of work! I would highly recommend checking it out if any of this described you! 

A review of the Kickass (Wo)men event and the magic of CoWomen

Kim – November 2018

This morning I took my “Kickass (Wo)men” shirt out of the closet. I saw it and I just felt like this one of those days: A day I remember that I am Kickass and that I can do almost anything together in a strong team. I remember the day of the Kickass (Wo)men event. Not only the fantastic evening, which was absolutely unique thanks to the community of CoWomen, but also the hours before the event.

Every team member was electrified and thanks to the many helpers* it was possible to turn the room in the Alte Münze into CoWomen’s Kickass Wonderland within a few hours. For those who might not have made it to the event, I will try to sketch the scene. Around noon I open the doors of the room and look at a lot of people who are all doing one thing: supporting each other and having a lot of fun. Some prepare the bar for the evening, others decorate the room to give it a certain CoWomen charm and the group of international artists* is slowly but surely building their exhibition, which will only find its premiere in such a combination today.

I go out again to do some errands and come back to the grounds of the Alte Münze at around dusk, already now, pastel-colored lights shine from the glass walls of the gallery where we were allowed to celebrate. I enter the room and can hardly believe how fantastic it has become. Lighting, flowers and matching balloons are very convincing, but in addition there is the diy decoration, which sums up that this evening is from kickass (Wo)men for Kickass Women. A couples of moments later we had a team meeting in which Alexa, Hannah, Sara and Kat give the helpers their task for the evening and the magic of the CoWomen community, almost by itself, takes care that this certain inspiring energy spreads in the room. This CoWomen energy that simply motivates and inspires.

Soon the first guests arrived and explored the room. However, some of them told us that the entrance to the building is blocked by an eternally long line of people who want to go to a parallel techno event. That was definitely a problem, we already had a few hurdles during the preparation, but they were limited to buying 30 limes, although lemons were needed *easy*. This was a bit bigger, because our Kickass (Wo)men now had to pass a queue of people that was almost a hundred meters long. This could get pretty confusing because the actual entrance was blocked with security checks, but we wouldn’t be CoWomen and wouldn’t be celebrating Kickass (Wo)men, if we let this stop us. Together with Hannah’s parents I went to the entrance of the Alte Münze and we looked for our Kickass (Wo)men, who were standing a little lost in front of it or lining up bravely in the queue, assuming it was for our event. We brought our guests to the right event, bit by bit past this hurdle towards the evening they were eagerly awaiting. That went on for a while, but together we made it and the evening started on time.

The opening speech of our three founders reflected the heart of this community with the known ease and energy. The invited Kickass (Wo)mae listened eagerly to the new plans and future projects Hannah, Sara and Kat talked about this evening, for the first time in public. CoWomen is moving to larger rooms and a new area to provide more rising women the community offers, work space and creative opportunities they need. About the whole area shone as this fantastic message stood in the room. Our great supporter Brigitte Zypries picked up on this moment and gave an exciting speech aimed at young women. I remember her saying something like, It’s not about thinking about the next job, the next offer or the next opportunity, it’s about just doing things because guys wouldn’t think about it that much either. I have already found myself in this willingness to make decisions, but since the Kickass Women Event I carry this thought even more clearly in me.

My absolute highlight of the evening was the premiere of the CoWomen crowdfunding video. A project that was conceived and brought to life by an energetic team and will hopefully open the next chapter for CoWomen. Another highlight was the interview recording of the Leading Rebels Podcast with Cilia Kanellopoulos, Head of Social Innovation of the Vodafone Institute. Kat actually managed to get the interview with exciting questions and insights into the world of an inspiringn woman from the sound strength of the evening and a crowd of spectators formed around the Leading Rebels. The mood of the evening was absolutely fantastic and was accompanied by the cool beats of Stella Zekri, Juan From Nowhere and Couleur. Either I met exciting people and was busy networking or I practiced my coolest kick in the kickass corner. The later the evening went on and everyone slowly drank out their CoBuzz (that’s the CoWomen cocktail created just for this evening – delicious and forever in memory), the more people gathered around the photo corner and we even made it to get a team picture at the end of the evening.

When I look back at this event about three weeks ago, I know that CoWomen is the necessary and unique concept for rising women. I remember the evening and see what these three inspiring women created with a team in a very short time of planning and in a day of setting up and that is almost unbelievable. But the fact is: it’s possible and it’s fantastic.

CoWomen is the space where one person and their very own project can grow, together with others and with the necessary support. This space has to be realized to bring projects like the Kickass Woman Event to life, because at a CoWomen event like this we meet, we connect, we inspire each other and help us grow. For me, this energy is the proof that the CoWomen community and its network of rising women, who support each other and help ech other progress, is the best thing that can happen to a woman.


Photography by Sophie le Roux | www.sophielerouxdocu.com | @sophielerouxdocu

Go get it, Girl

Go get it, Girl

Kim – June 2018

Just a few weeks ago, I was browsing job portals looking for a job that would allow me to learn and grow. I was looking for something more challenging than my flexible life as a student is demanding at the moment. I really don’t want to complain about my studies, I love it, I just lack the concrete feeling to work towards goals and to participate in a project that enriches and fulfils me.

A student job had to be found, but the proposed offers as a customer assistant in a call center or more opportunities to work in the gastronomy disillusioned me a little. Where was the kind of growth and experience that I felt such an urge for?

One click further, on a new website, I came across CoWomen’s job opening. It sounded interesting, powerful and full of energy. Without further hesitation, a few moments later i sent my application and hoped that there would not be twenty other applicants for this position. A little later, this day, i updated my emails and already found an email from CoWomen. I think this was probably the quickest response I’ve ever received to an application. I was terribly excited before the interview, but when I got to the CoWomen Pop-Up, I replaced the tension with just being myself. And so, we sat outside eating ice cream in the sunshine and chatted. A trial working day followed, on which I felt very welcome and after a few more days of process the trembling finally came to an end.
Hannah welcomed me to the team.

I am proud that I had simply sent off my application to CoWomen, and even though I was terribly nervous and had actually doubted myself all the time, I could convince. After this short time, I was able to accompany the team of CoWomen and participate in their process I’ve learned a lot.

I am surrounded by new perspectives and topics that I kind of heard heard of before,  but that I didn’t really feel involved in . The phenomenon of a strong female network already became a fascination for me on my first day at work. One meeting after another, Sara worked on expanding CoWomen’s reach. After another work session with Kat, I thought about my, so far subconscious, concept of communication and anyway after every sort of “CoWomen-Input”  I am constantly asking myself questions, which never really filled my head before.

The night of “Women of Greateness” fascinated me completely. It’s just great when rising women come together and share their experiences. Each of them has its own background and personal topics, but in the CoWomen community they all bring together what unites them: female greateness.

As I’m writing this, I’m experiencing another day at CoWomen, which influences and changes me and this confirms that I’ve arrived at the right place.

"We just started playing."

“We just started playing.”

Sara – June 2018

Time really flies. We realise that at the end of each day in our CoWomen space. Is it possible that the day ends, we have worked on one task after the other – hardly thinking about food or even breathing – and still there is a feeling of not having achieved anything? Our last energy fort he day is spent cleaning up the kitchen dishes and I get a memory of childhood days in my head: It feels like the time back in my childhood, when I ran over to my friends house to play first thing in the morning and was devastated when I was called home for dinner. Is the day really over, yet? We just started playing!

If you have exciting and fulfilling tasks, the day passes particularly fast. An interview with a fascinating student, talks about women in leadership and the future of work with coworkers in our space, reading a good article and posting it on our Facebook page, designing t-shirts, filling our workshop program with exciting content that strengthens women in their jobs… At the end of the day, we’re left with disappointment about stopping to do what you enjoy doing. And we are exhausted, but at the same time there is certainty that it was a good day.

The highlight of my week has clearly been the visit of a great role model: Brigitte Zypries visited us for coffee and exchange in our CoWomen Pop-Up. The former Minister of Justice and Economics is also the author of the manifesto “Strong Women, Strong Economy” and has been campaigning for women at work and female founders. A great honour and a visit that made it particularly difficult for me to hide my nervousness. Ms Zypries has listened to us. She was interested in our concept and gave us valuable input and feedback. Through meetings like these we learn again where we stand and where we are heading with CoWomen. And above all, we learn that we are not alone with the vision of more women at work and the creation of the perfect space for the everyday life of aspiring women.

We just started playing!

It’s all about the people

It’s all about the people

Hannah – May 2018

Even the best preparation does not protect against unexpected events.
In the end, it’s the people around you that help. Whether on site, at home, on the phone, on all other channels – what carried us through the time before the opening, were the people by our side.

If the furniture does not arrive and it is due to technical problems of the suppliers, calls and frustration do not help. Then it’s time to tackle it again. Luckily, I’m quite good at it. Even in the eighth month of pregnancy. At least I can handle most things and yes, here and there I move tables and chairs and carry around boxes and tools.

But our great team always made sure that I had enough rest. Sleep was out of the question anyway. At 5 o’clock in the morning in half sleep it suddenly starts. The top of thoughts about what you still have to do, want to do and could do.

Drilling, shopping, ordering food, fetching the ordered food, inflating balloons, receiving packages, assembling furniture. Bribe the baker in the house to exceptionally receive a parcel, stick the note to the mailbox and then find out that the parcel was delivered to the neighbour, who of course was not at home when our great babysitter wanted to pick it up. By a lucky coincidence we had his mobile number and he raced home to hand over the package with the flyers. I had already put out clothes for Henry, who arrived to the space and withing seconds paints himself with chalk and covered himself with ice. He felt incredibly comfortable among all the great women, shaking hands and waving.

When 320 people registered, we were even a little glad that not all the furniture had already arrived. But we need more drinks! A warm day. Go, go, go! Karolina, the famous Berlin Eisqueen, has spontaneously provided us with even more ice and besides the great frozen, alcoholic cocktails on a stick also brought ice for all those who (must) do without alcohol.

What always surprises me is that in the end we always call Mama and our best friend if something happens. And fortunately my best friend’s fiancé had time on the afternoon of the opening to actively support us. Family, first of all my great men (also the little man inside of me), friends and a group of volunteers, led by Alexa Mollicchi Casanova, made the evening a special experience.

Let’s keep thriving together!

What coworking feels like

What CoWorking feels like

Sara – May 2018

Here we are. Our space on Bergstraße is open for business. What a huge step in CoWomen’s short history. A step I am very proud of and at the same time steps you work for when you work for your own business are only opening up new tasks and new goals to work on afterwards.

So for us, that meant right after furnishing and opening our place we had to focus on the program, which we offer, and running everyday life in the space. We could just open the space up and change the flowers every once in a while. But for us running the place means offering a full program in order to make a women’s every day perfect and lighten up work with sessions for body and soul. We are absolutely amazed by the awesome trainers and yoga teachers and coaches, who approached us and we are willing to offer them our space to bring joy and ideas as well as guidance to our CoWomen. It’s going to be an exciting time!

And on the other hand, we are happy and a little proud, that we managed to make the space as cozy and beautiful as we hope for and the first two weeks, we not only enjoyed working there, but we really live what we preach and used all the synergies of coworking in a place that makes us feel at home. We enjoyed each class and workshop and event. We got to know awesome women and are ready for more to come and join the community. Coworking to me for the last two weeks meant interesting input from women of other fields of work on branding ourselves. It meant concentrating on my body and my inner voice next to others. It meant being able to focus on my work and at the same time feeling comfortable at my workplace. I really feel empowered. Now, I would like to transport this feeling to many more women and make the magic happen in our space!

So let’s get started together!

Sometimes you just have to jump

Sometimes you just have to jump

Hannah – April 2018

It is really happening..! We will soon and finally open the first space. Without this great team, it could not have been possible!

It’s been a bit more than a year now since we had the idea of opening a coworking space with flexible, private childcare.

What’s happened since? Some changes happened very quickly. Within hours, the coworking space with childcare turned into the idea of a space exclusively for women. Other changes, as significant as the business idea, took a bit longer: the team. The “we” changed from two women to three and then to one again. And back to three. I honestly underestimated the importance of the team when founding your own business. It’s easier to get around certain issues, topics, and compromises if you are employed, work in a big team, or have structures already implemented. The core team of the founding process is a different thing.

The first “we” agreed on the idea, the business model, we even wrote down our vision and values of work, everyday life, etc. It seemed as if we agreed on the important things. Then my former partner brought another friend into the team. The fact that it was actually a friend of hers created this big imbalance. I really didn’t expect that. But it just didn’t really fit. At what levels? Personal? I don’t claim to be friends with all the people I work with. But I’d love to go out for a drink with them. Respect, understanding – you can have all that. But sometimes it just doesn’t fit. And in the end, the business idea was too different in decisive details. Even though the vision and the big goal were the same, the path and the approach were so different that when the former co-founder had the chance to realize herself in other projects, she took it. The third of the group was already at the end of her parental leave. We knew that if we couldn’t pay her a salary in a timely manner, she’d get a job. And she found one.

And so, from one day to the next, I was the whole team. That is one thing. But the fact that I would leave for enpact’s startup camp the next day was added strain. I was thinking, “CoWomen is at the end – how am I supposed to stand there and convey an idea about a strong community if my own team doesn’t even manage to stick together.” The camp was starting, and in three weeks the final round of the ebay Startup Cup would take place, and we had reached the top 7. “How am I supposed to do that?!” I thought again. There were still half-hearted promises from the former team to stand on stage and support at least at the Cup.

I cried that night. And with tears in my eyes, I went to the station the next day to meet the other enpact fellows. A little pile of misery. And one thing I can say: This was the beginning of one of the best weeks of last year! But I’ll write about it in detail another time.

For the week after the startup camp I organized a small meet-up of CoWomen at my home. There were four of us. Kat, a young woman with great ideas and a lot of expertise. And Nadine, my best friend, who was only there to support me. Then Sara, who accompanied us virtually on the screen and could not enjoy any of the healthy snacks that my husband – CoWomen’s greatest supporter – had prepared. By the way, he applies for membership almost weekly. He thinks we’re so great, he wants to be a part of it. He is now teaching our son Henry to say, “CoWomen! CoWomen!” and clap his hands.

And so it happened that Sara and Kat jumped in on the deep end and pushed CoWomen forward with incredible courage. In the beginning it was almost only about the competition and the appearance there. We could hardly breathe deeply and achieved so much more in those two weeks to the Cup than in all the months before!

Without Sara and Kat, CoWomen would not exist anymore. Without them we would not be opening our first club in three weeks. We can count an unbelievable number of wonderful people among our supporters, have great mentors around us who have brought us all this far, no question. But nobody was as essential as this team that we have now grown into together. With ups and downs, no question. My impatience, which not only made it hard for me but also the team at times. It will then still take until mid-February before we sign the shareholder agreement. Now we are a company! Well, soon. We were in such a hurry, because we did everything in between, in lunch breaks, after work, before the next events, that we couldn’t even celebrate it properly.

And then? Only then did the miracle happen! The day after the shareholder agreement was signed, we sat with one of our great supporters in the evening and only then did we realize that we wanted to do something for young women, for women on the rise. Not for all women or women who are already well established in their careers. We would like to support.

We knew early on that we wanted to take off with CoWomen and believed in the idea of offering something special for women that didn’t really exist yet: the Club, the physical space. This small change in our idea has many great consequences. New doors are opening and partnerships are already developing.

I am grateful that we have found each other as a team and will soon open the first CoWomen Pop-Up. And only recently we found Alicia and Alexa, who support us actively! So glad to have them on board.

I am so proud that we just kept on walking, even if the light was sometimes very far away.

Sometimes you just have to jump…

Oh, and that is actually the blanket I am knitting right now.

Countdown: How it feels to found a business 600 km from home

Countdown: How it feels to found a business 600 km from home 

Sara – April 2018

There is a countdown on our homepage now. A countdown to an event we have been looking forward to for a long time, and we are extremely excited about: The CoWomen Pop-Up launch!

The day on which we are opening our doors and start the CoWomen legend. To all of us this means all the theory will fade into the background and practice will take over. We will need to concentrate on really living and implementing our ideas. To me it also means implementing, working, and being away from home even more. I live 600 km away from the place CoWomen’s ideas will call home and which will soon be the starting point of a blooming community.

At CoWomen we believe digitalism is not all you need in order to build a sustainable community. We believe in the magic of real-life encounters and the importance of the right place and space to be in. The right space is crucial to meeting the right people. The right place however, is crucial in order to take the right steps on the way to a functioning business.

I think there are at least two aspects that make Berlin the right place for CoWomen to grow: It is the ecosystem represented by the many women who are familiar with our concept and ready to get started. I am sure there is a trade-off for many businesses between being the first one with the idea in the place on the one hand and fitting into a system on the other. With CoWomen in Berlin, I think we are both.

And the second aspect is that I have the right partners in this place. With my amazing cofounder, who is based in Berlin, and the amazing partners we found here, CoWomen is in a perfect place to start. It feels much more like flying a jet than taking baby steps. It feels great! So I think, when founding a business, one needs to be flexible in terms of location. Within the starting phase, especially. Look for the right place – even if it sounds complicated at first to found a business away from home, which means additional costs for travelling and living and a lot of digital coworking. It can be worth the energy and the money as long as it develops and as long as it feels right. So, I would recommend everyone while possible, stay flexible in terms of travelling for work or changing your location every once in a while. It opens up the possibility of being in the best of all places. The place that fits your business.

The thought of really starting in practice makes me excited, because I will build a home away from home to share it with great people!