The “women’s space” — an overview
A short series providing a peek into the female forward and women’s empowerment space. Who are the key players and what are they up to?
“You’ve picked a fraught path,” a friend of mine responded when I told her that I want to work in the “women’s space.” Fraught: Causing or affected by anxiety or stress, is how Google defines it. I had quit my job last year to focus on building my niche and expertise in the women’s space with a design and systems lens. Had I quit my job to follow a fraught path?
My focus on women isn’t new: I attended an all women’s liberal arts college. I had written about the objectification of women’s bodies in Indian matrimonials in the college application’s personal statement. As a sophomore, I had noticed the gender gap in tech and designed & taught a short computing curriculum to middle school girls. A few years later, when I found myself as a designer in the social impact space, I was working on reproductive health care, financial inclusion for women, teenage girl empowerment.
And yet, even though women has been an underlying theme for me for as long as I can remember, when my friend chose to call it fraught, I couldn’t help but feel slight truth in it. When I ruminated on it a little more, I realized what I also felt was overwhelm: The women’s space was big, layered, and becoming saturated quickly.
Between the books, articles, events, conferences, gatherings, communities — even though I was excited that women were getting their long overdue much needed focus + attention— I found myself hard to stay updated and informed on all that is going on.
So I went on a little internet journey, to answer the following questions: What is the women’s space? What is going on? In this piece, I provide an overview of the components of this space [without going into the details — these will come soon, watch this space and follow us!]
In the form of Facebook groups, email list-serves, newsletters, conferences, events, co-working spaces, breakfasts, workshops, content, and more — this is where women are congregating, connecting and in some cases learning.
Focused on learning, these take the form of fellowships, mentoring and coaching opportunities, and education curricula. Programs often turn into, or can be born out of communities.
Mostly in the start-up space, these venture or crowd-funds and incubators are focused on increasing female founders.
Selling products or services to women, but with an empowerment message. Sexuality and reproductive health are two big focuses here.
Several non-profits and foundations have been running projects and programs for on lower-income women and teenage girls for several years. Women-centric social innovation is largely working in reproductive health & financial inclusion.
Internal Organizational Culture
Companies and organizations are gaining awareness of their male-centered cultures. These companies are trying to push for more diversity and inclusion, by in some cases, hiring someone onto their HR teams to build and create a more diverse and inclusive culture.
These are a few components in the women’s empowerment space. Over the next few weeks, I will take a deeper dive into each of the components, outline a few of the players: who they are, what they are doing, and how they might be perceived. Did I miss a major component? Please let me know in the comments — this is as much a learning process for me.
I am Mansi Gupta, founder of Unconform Studio, a design and strategy shop focused on women and systems level change. We write about design, impact, gender equity, unlearning patriarchy and more. Don’t forget to subscribe to us for more Unconforming Stories or give us a follow right here on Medium!