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How Coworking Space The Wing Has Helped Women Soar Audrey Gelman opened the coworking space The Wing to give women a place to collaborate and grow their ideas. A powerful community has followed.

By Stephanie Schomer

This story appears in the June 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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By the time The Wing opened its doors in 2016 in the historic district of Manhattan's Ladies' Mile, people were clamoring to get in. The all-women coworking space attracted young professionals who were eager to spend their days alongside like-minded women, despite annual member fees of $2,350 and a very long waitlist. It's not hard to see why: The stylishly designed space boasts amenities like showers, beauty rooms, lactation rooms and private phone booths; and the regular nighttime event series has included panels with everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to Hillary Clinton.

Related: 4 Ways Co-Working Spaces Inspire Innovation and Collaboration

This hasn't come without some controversy. The New York City Commission on Human Rights launched an inquiry this spring to explore potential violations of anti-discrimination laws -- essentially questioning whether it's legal for The Wing to shut out men. Founders Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan, however, have expressed confidence that they're in compliance with the law. And they've continued an aggressive expansion, recently announcing plans to grow from four locations to 10. We talked with Gelman about challenges faced as a female founder, the necessity of safe spaces for women, and how The Wing has become a veritable startup factory.