As an independent writer and journalist interested in holistic productivity, I’ve been to almost half a dozen coworking conferences all over the world—in places like Barcelona, Kansas City, Austin, Berkeley, Calif., etc.
I love watching the coworking movement grow and shift, and being lucky enough to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the next phases are taking shape.
But, the inaugural Global Coworking Unconference Conference in Toronto stood out to me as one of the absolute best.
It was both poised and fun, intimate and expansive, and exquisitely well structured while leaving still room fun and spontaneity.
Run by Ashley Proctor, founder of Creative Blueprint and Foundery in Toronto, Ashley made sure that the heartbeat and pulse of coworking was felt throughout the conference.
Veteran GCUC USA founder Liz Elam was there helping Ashley every step of the way.
“Working with Ashley was so easy, and our friendship and collaboration was so effortless,” Liz told me. “I respect her and vica versa—we just get it done.”
Liz has run GCUC for four years and has consistently brought together key influencers in coworking from all over the globe.
At GCUC Canada, Tonya Surman of the Centre for Social Innovation was a featured speaker who dazzled everyone with her eloquent, vivacious tenacity.
Tonya stands for coworking as a human movement and coworking spaces as a container for transformation. She invited the audience to think about the precariously employed, “the precariate,” and how coworking space owners and managers can help these people.
Tonya is strong and empowered, and owns her feminine in a way that is rare and beautiful.
The women behind the coworking movement perhaps serve to reflect the engagement of women who cowork, which is a fast growing contingent, according to Steve King of Emergent Research.
Steve revealed at GCUC Canada that, based on his research, women are more collaborative than men.
Seventy-six percent of women say they turn to other coworking members to help solve work challenges (versus 54% of men). And 52% of women say they regularly bounce ideas off other members (versus 42% of men).
Perhaps most importantly, 83% of women rated being part of community very important (versus 69% of men).
According to Steve, women comprise about 52 percent of the membership of US coworking spaces. As the independent workforce grows and as coworking expands (in both space and perhaps definition), we’ll see even more women in coworking.
If Ashley, Tonya and Liz are any indication of the kinds of women we’ll see both spearheading and collaborating in the coworking world, it will be a powerful future indeed.
By Amy Segreti