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Supporting women in male-dominated industries comes down to just one thing

Supporting women in male-dominated industries comes down to just one thing

When you think of cities that truly understand the importance of gender equity, you’d be forgiven for overlooking Las Vegas. But an all-female coworking space has emerged from the desert and lights to pave the way for local women who are building businesses in male-dominated industries.

Bloom is the first coworking space in Las Vegas just for women and has built a following of devoted members who chose it because of its supportive community culture.

Shot of the main workspace in Bloom, Las Vegas

It is the passion project of its founder, Chelli Wolford, who wanted to create a beautiful safe space for women to step into their greatness. This was a niche she had noticed from her own experience in male-dominated environments.

Chelli started her career in the wireless telecom industry after studying Engineering at the United States Naval Academy. She transitioned out of the wireless space into business strategy, co-founding a boutique digital media firm, connecting musicians to brands before returning to Las Vegas in 2014.

After chatting to Bloom’s members who have experience ranging from military, to technology, to entertainment, to politics and coaching, it became clear that supporting women in male-dominated industries comes down to just one characteristic: the normalization of emotion.

Dreams don't work unless you do

In the past, emotion has been excluded from workplaces – and even entire industries – due to a perception of unpredictability. When also matched with the societal construct of women as ‘emotional beings’, the result was discrimination and exclusion of women in such places. Steps have been taken in recent years to change these perceptions but there are still large gaps in the acceptance of emotions, particularly ones associated with femininity.

Karina Provost of NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada noted that being around women at Bloom allows her to “do [sic] the work and remain unapologetic” about her emotions. Empowerment Coach and Bloom regular, Ronda Wynn, went further to describe how women often feel isolated in workplaces with a male-dominant culture which leads to closed doors and limited opportunity.

Karina, a Bloom member

Normalizing our emotional experiences and needs in the workplace supports women by cultivating the bonds that form communities. Robyn Eckersley shared that it gives women a space to “have conversations about issues that we each face continually, a floor on which to have very real and honest discussions about difficult and complex concepts”.

The same communities, in turn, benefit everyone, including men, because it gives them space to develop a healthy EQ and a culture that values it.

At RedEye, maintaining our strong community and culture is a core value of the way we do business. We see supporting emotional health as an important aspect of overall mental health. For example, our Recharge Days are a way that we as a company support our people to check in with themselves and take care of their mental health.

Different spaces at Bloom

It’s estimated 13 years of our lives will be spent at work. In fact, as far as ‘lifetime pursuits’ go this is only surpassed by how long we’ll sleep. Yet, compared to the amount of advertising for a good pillow or mattress, you don’t see many pointers on creating the most supportive workplace possible.

For female entrepreneurs and women in male-dominated industries, our support networks and the communities we’re part of play a part in our overall success. Where else should we cultivate them than the place we’re spending the majority of our waking life – our workspaces?

As the Brisbane team settle into our new Australian HQ, we’re carefully considering how to use our physical workspace to support our company culture, just as Bloom has done in Las Vegas.

I’d like to thank Chelli, Karina, Ronda, Robyn and all the women I spent time with at Bloom Las Vegas for their time and generosity answering our questions. You are all rockstars!

Are you a woman in technology looking for ways to be more involved in your local community? Check out WomenHack! We’ll be at the Brisbane event on February 28 and you can learn more about their international meetups here. 

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