Women-only clubs get a makeover

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MOST Finns celebrate the summer solstice with a long night of sweaty sauna sessions and binge-drinking. But this year, on an island off the coast of Raseborg, an hour-and-a-half’s drive from the capital Helsinki, a group of women from around the world gathered for the opening of a private island resort to cleanse their bodies and minds of toxins—including, it seems, the patriarchy. “SuperShe Island” is a place for ambitious women to network while experiencing a “vacation on steroids”, says Kristina Roth, the resort’s German-American founder. Men are strictly banned.

The island resort is just one of a crop of new women-only spaces hoping to bring a sea-change in the way women network. The Allbright, a new club in London, focuses on creating business networks for working women. An American firm called The Wing is an all-female co-working space, and plans to open a London branch later this year. Her Global Network, originally from Sweden, helps women find business contacts in 14 cities around the…


Spread the love
Spread the love

MOST Finns celebrate the summer solstice with a long night of sweaty sauna sessions and binge-drinking. But this year, on an island off the coast of Raseborg, an hour-and-a-half’s drive from the capital Helsinki, a group of women from around the world gathered for the opening of a private island resort to cleanse their bodies and minds of toxins—including, it seems, the patriarchy. “SuperShe Island” is a place for ambitious women to network while experiencing a “vacation on steroids”, says Kristina Roth, the resort’s German-American founder. Men are strictly banned.

The island resort is just one of a crop of new women-only spaces hoping to bring a sea-change in the way women network. The Allbright, a new club in London, focuses on creating business networks for working women. An American firm called The Wing is an all-female co-working space, and plans to open a London branch later this year. Her Global Network, originally from Sweden, helps women find business contacts in 14 cities around the world.

In the #MeToo era, it is little wonder that many women are seeking the equivalent of influential men’s clubs. In the EU women earned 16% less than men in 2016, according to Eurostat. Female entrepreneurs tend to have smaller networks than their male counterparts, mainly consisting of family and friends. Women only represent a third of all entrepreneurs in the EU and are half as likely to be self-employed as men.

Women-only clubs are not a new concept. They existed in London as early as 1860. Today’s gentlewomen’s clubs, unlike their male counterparts, feature Instagram-friendly interiors, and mindfulness classes. The Wing has a lactation room. At SuperShe, women can fly in on a private helicopter from Helsinki, skinny-dip in the Baltic Sea and dine off a low-cal menu.

Like their male counterparts, these women’s clubs have not escaped criticism. The Finnish equality ombudsman investigated SuperShe for discrimination. The project was given the all-clear on the grounds that to achieve its goal of female empowerment, women had to feel comfortable on the island. The Wing, however, is still facing a similar investigation in New York.

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