The Wing: A Trailblazer in Co-Working Space

Audrey Gelman, co-founder and CEO of The Wing, made headlines when she became the first visibly pregnant woman to appear on the cover of a business magazine. Founded in 2016, The Wing is a women-focused co-working space collective and club. When Gelman co-founded the enterprise with Lauren Kassan, The Wing originally had 200 members. Now, it has over 10,000 members. As of September 2019, The Wing had raised $117.5 million in venture-capital funding in 2-3 years. It’s not surprising that this community has been making headlines. 

Gelman’s decision to appear visibly pregnant was remarkably significant because it proves that women can succeed in their careers without sacrificing their desire to become moms. “You can't be what you can't see," Gelman recalls. This thought encapsulates her vision (and ours) that women can indeed have the best of both worlds, even if it’s very challenging. The United States is still the only developed country that does not guarantee paid parental leave, making it difficult for families to prioritize their careers and kids at the same time. 

A 2017 Pew Research Center study found that moms with young children (under 18) are now less likely to enter the workforce as they were two decades ago, and that “34% of women didn’t return to work after giving birth”. This study shows why we need women like Gelman to represent women overcoming the hurdle of choosing between family and work. It’s important to note that not all women have to work after having children, it should be more accessible for women if they wish to continue. 

In an interview for The Cut, Gelman recounts all of the systemic disadvantages women, especially pregnant women, face every day. She says, “We expect women to endure these things in private and not talk about them." Pregnant women are fearful of being judged and excluded by their male counterparts, investors, or bosses. That can be isolating and intimidating for women who are soon to be moms but don’t want to sacrifice their careers. We need women like Gelman, proving that women can do both. 

Gelman, an NYU and Oberlin College alumna, worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Campaign for President, Scott Stringer’s run for NYC Comptroller, and was a Senior VP at the strategic communications firm, SKDKnickerbocker. The CEO has the experience and passion that pours into The Wing and its mission to support the “professional, civic, social, and economic advancement of women through community.” With inspiration from the women’s club movement in the 19th and 20th centuries, The Wing aims to revive its vibrant atmosphere, solidarity, and spirit. 

The Wing’s all-female executive team (three of whom are also pregnant), reflects The Wing’s commitment to women’s success. We’re accustomed to the fact that more diverse companies generate higher returns - 19% to be exact, as found by a Boston Consulting Group study. Gelman has stated that each Wing location is profitable, and the master plan is to scale meaningfully and “with real intention.” The Wing focuses on delivering its promises of community and solidarity - and that can’t be sacrificed through rapid, insincere expansion. The Wing is the embodiment of the success a diverse leadership team can achieve. 

However, in June 2018, James E. Pietrangelo filed a $12 million lawsuit against The Wing for gender discrimination, as he was denied membership for being male. Since then, The Wing has opened up its membership to anyone who aligns with its mission, regardless of gender identity. The new policy aims to be more welcoming to those who are nonbinary or transgender.

Current memberships start at $185/month and provide a beautiful co-working space and amenities galore. Each office is equipped with amenities ranging from phone booths, conference rooms, beauty rooms, libraries to showers, and pump rooms. Some select locations feature The Little Wing, a playroom, and programming center for kids that squeezes in time for parents to work or take a break. 

The Wing has repeatedly been praised for being more than just a collaborative work space. It’s designed to address women’s most pressing needs, whether it’s professional development, mentorship, networking, building community, or kindling friendships. Members get access to a multitude of programs too. From career advancement and special movie screenings to exciting excursions, The Wing’s got you covered. Through brand partnerships, members are offered discounts from NYMag, AWAY, The Public Theater, and more. You can also enjoy your favorite products in the beauty room and showers. The Wing also hosts brilliant speaker series. Jennifer Lopez and Hillary Clinton have been some of the featured guests. 

The Wing’s emphasis on impact can’t be ignored. Its impact philosophy comprises three key pillars: civic engagement, community engagement, and diversity & inclusion. Programming focuses on hosting town halls during election cycles. It offers a space for members to connect and converse with elected officials at all levels. The Wing has been dedicated to registering every eligible member to vote. The Wing partners with local nonprofits such as the Women’s Prison Association, Black Girls Code, and The Legal Aid Society. Members can connect with organizations to help underprivileged communities through volunteering, mentorship, and aid. The Wing also offers a scholarship in the form of a free one year membership to women and non-binary individuals whose work supports women and girls. 

Those who aren’t yet members of The Wing can take a quick listen to their podcast, or peek into the No Man’s Land magazine featuring remarkable women talking about what’s important. In a previous issue, Aminatou Sow discussed truth, power and work with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. In its latest release, No Man’s Land features Jameela Jamil, Maggie Rogers, Kamala Haris, and more. 

Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has claimed, “The Wing isn’t just a functional space, it's a real symbol of what's opening in our country. [It's] one of the most potent forces that we've seen emerge in politics this year.” 

If you’re now eager to become a member of the community, visit The Wing at its very first office in the historic Flatiron district in 2016. In NYC, there are offices in Soho and DUMBO as well, with planned openings in Bryant Park and Williamsburg. There are multiple offices in Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston. 

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