You didn't see that one coming, and yet we're going to explain how coworking spaces promote gender equality. The Covid pandemic, and the years that followed, revealed that women were the first victims of telecommuting in degraded mode. The Hubertine Auclert center in the Paris region sounded the alarm in its latest report, published in March 2023. Indeed, women seem to be more affected than their male counterparts by the lengthening of their working hours linked to teleworking (24% of female teleworkers versus 20% of male teleworkers). At the same time, more women were able to reconcile childcare with teleworking (87% vs. 76% of men). Unfavorable teleworking conditions had a greater impact, leading to a deterioration in their physical and mental well-being, as well as an increase in cases of domestic, sexist and sexual violence. However, there are solutions to this gloomy picture, and teleworking via coworking centers could even be a lever in favor of professional gender equality. We tell you all about it!

Does teleworking penalize women?

Telecommuting, introduced into the French Labor Code in 2012 and massively adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic, presents specific challenges for gender equality in the workplace. galité professionnelle entre hommes et femmes, according to a report by the Haut Conseil à l'égalité entre les femmes et les hommes (HCE ) conducted in February 2023. Although widely acclaimed, telecommuting from home (home office) can entail risks in terms of the balance between personal and professional life, especially for women.

The HCE study highlights the increased inequalities for women teleworking, particularly in terms of equipment and frequent interruptions during work. Sectors where women work are often less prepared for telecommuting. What's more, almost 37% of women who spend six hours or more teleworking allocate at least two hours to domestic tasks, compared with Le 21% of men.

Telecommuting from home exposes women to risks such as reduced career opportunities, as they are more affected than men by this hybrid mode. It can also be perceived as a childcare solution, reinforcing wage disparities within couples. In addition, teleworking increases the risk of overexposure to domestic violence, particularly for women, with cases of cyberstalking in the workplace.

To combat these various risks, the HCE recommends maintaining a rhythm articulated between face-to-face and remote work, as well as providing flexible workers with suitable teleworking spaces. This is where third-party and coworking spaces come in.

Are women really in favor of telecommuting?

Despite the risks associated with telecommuting, women are actually more likely to use it.

According to economist Rachel Silvera, women are more likely to be involved in this hybrid mode, while men are more likely to have returned to full-time presence. Sociologist Gabrielle Schütz also explained to Radio France that there are several structural reasons why women are "more likely to telework than men". They have "less room to maneuver in the family sphere" due to the increased burden of household tasks, and "less room to maneuver in the professional sphere" due to the less flexible nature of their jobs, often lower in the hierarchy.

The latest report from the Chaire FIT (Futurs de l'Industrie et du Travail) at the Ecole des Mines de Paris (Paris School of Mines) also bears this out.le that to think that by 2023 - 2024 the evolution of the sharing of household tasks had become a non-issue is to be unaware of reality.

The telecommuting experience, when unregulated, becomes part of an existing framework of private and professional inequalities.

Coworking spaces: a solution for promoting gender equality?

The Centre Hubertine Auclert encourages companies to extend telecommuting to areas other than the home, and recommends coworking spaces and other third-party locations as suitable solutions. However, companies must offer these spaces as alternatives and leave the final choice to the users.

In particular, these measures are designed to give women greater autonomy in managing their work schedules, and to reduce professional disparities.

Working from a coworking space can play a significant role in reinforcing equality between women and men in the workplace. This working model offers several advantages that help to reduce gender disparities.

First and foremost, coworking spaces create a neutral professional environment, promoting equal opportunities. By eliminating the rigid hierarchical structures present in many traditional offices, these spaces offer everyone equal access to resources and networking opportunities, regardless of gender.

What's more, coworking makes it easier for women to balance work and family responsibilities. These spaces offer greater flexibility in terms of working hours, which can be particularly beneficial for women with family obligations. The possibility of choosing working hours adapted to their personal needs thus contributes to greater gender equity.

By encouraging collaboration and the exchange of ideas, coworking spaces also provide a platform for the emergence of female talent. Women have the opportunity to express themselves, share their skills and actively participate in professional projects, which can help to reduce the gender representation gap in the world of work.

Finally, coworking can offer a support network. Women can benefit from mentors, business partners and professional contacts on an equal basis, helping to break down the barriers that often limit women's access to professional opportunities and leadership positions.

Several women's coworking spaces have sprung up along these lines, advocating coworking for women. These include Mona Paris, set up by the founder of My Little Paris, Moonahé, a unique space in Le Havre dedicated to women and motherhood, and Le Studio, a 100% women's coworking space in downtown Bourges.

Working from a coworking space offers an environment conducive to the creation of a more equitable professional culture, promoting equality between women and men. This flexible, collaborative working model can play a crucial role in promoting diversity and inclusion, helping to build a more equitable and balanced professional world.

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