About two years ago, we wrote an article called “Why Women-Only Spaces are Important.” We still very much agree with everything in the post, but as we evolve, so does our work and our approach to community.
Last year, we began opening up some of our events to all genders, except for our monthly Networking Events (now called monthly “Geek Outs”!), which are our flagship events. We’ve been hosting this type of gathering since 2013. They frequently sell out and are considered a fun and welcoming event.
This year, we’ve decided to make a shift and open up our Geek Outs to all genders as well. If you’ve been coming to our events for a while, you may have noticed that every Eventbrite has the following statement posted:
Please note that this is a women-only event that intends an inclusive definition of women. We are welcoming and respectful of women, including trans women and those that are nonbinary, gender non-conforming, and any others who identify as a woman in a way that is significant to them.
Going forward, all events will state:
This event is a woman-focused event that intends an inclusive definition of women. We are welcoming and respectful of women, including trans women and those who are nonbinary, gender non-conforming, and anyone who identifies as a woman in a way that is significant to them. We also welcome allies who are committed to creating environments that are supportive of people who are typically underrepresented in the workplace and beyond.
Why the switch? First, and this bears repeating– we absolutely stand by our previous article. There is a need for women-only spaces for all the reasons we’ve outlined before and we support those who choose to create those spaces. We will never consider it reverse sexism, nor will we ever think of these spaces as echo chambers. However, we’ve decided to open up our events to allies for a variety of important reasons:
- We can’t succeed in reaching gender equity without our allies. Yep, we do better together. This doesn’t mean that we need to teach them, nor does it mean that they should have a microphone, but it does mean that they should be able to attend and support us.
- There’s a unique dynamic when women+ are in spaces where there are men, but men are in the minority; this has been the case for any events where we’ve invited all genders. We think there’s an opportunity to flip the script on what feels ‘normal’ in today’s world.
- Finally, we’re going to be super real… there are men’s rights groups out there attacking women’s groups. We’d rather see our time, resources, and money spent toward creating more inclusive workplaces than on legal fees.
We understand that you might have a few questions or concerns. We hope that we address your concerns below, but please know that you should always feel free to reach out to us on any points that we may not have addressed. Chances are if you have a concern, then others do as well, and we want to hear from you– our community.
- Safety– one concern you may have is that you’re losing your one place that actually feels safe. We understand this feeling. However, unfortunately there’s no way for us to 100% guarantee safety (regardless of who’s in the space). What we will say is that we have a code of conduct which all team members, Chapter Leaders and Ambassadors take to heart and live by. We also ask that everyone who signs up for our events has read this code of conduct. No one comes to our events without knowing it exists. With this shift in our event approach, we will be even more diligent about ensuring that every attendee and community member has an excellent experience, and that we uphold this code.
- This event will never be the same– true, it won’t! Change is hard, but we believe that it’s critical for growth. We are confident that the fundamental nature of our events will remain the same– valuing kindness, humor, honesty, humility, curiosity, and embracing our awkward. We’ve noticed over the years that while there may be the occasional person who comes who doesn’t fit or share those values, they usually don’t return.
We hope that you stick with us for all of our events in 2020 and beyond! We’ve got so much in store and we look forward to your continued trust, presence, and support. And we mean it, if you have any questions or concerns, if there’s something we haven’t thought of that you’d like us to address, don’t hesitate to reach out!