Peta Ellis is the CEO of River City Labs.
As the female boss of a leading accelerator space for early-stage ideas and startups, she breaks down the gender gap so often debated when discussing diversity in the tech industry.
And while she champions for equality and creating an inclusive environment, she says she doesn’t mind the idea of a single-sex co-working space.
This follows the launch of Nomadic Thinkers, Australia’s first co-working space exclusive to men.
Yesterday, in an interview with Junkee, the co-founders of the space basically said by supporting men it will help to prevent domestic violence.
“Depression and suicide result from a lack of social support and community. Having a space where they [men] can be men is more of a preventative measure,” Samuel Monaghan said. “Healthy, happy men don’t hit their wives.”
Since the article was published, Nomadic Thinkers has been the target of public backlash. Many say their attempt to align their business with domestic violence prevention is misguided and trivialises a serious issue.
Ellis agrees that their comments about domestic violence were a stretch, “taking one experience and relating it all to domestic violence” and said it was an “under-educated description of the situation”. But she doesn’t oppose the idea of a male-only work space.
“I’ve read some forums this morning and it’s caused quite a flurry,” she said.
“But this is about a men’s group, not a safe work place for men to go to.
“Co-working is on trend at the moment with how people want to change working.
“I’ve come to the conclusion recently that co-working spaces are going to start to popping up within different niches. It’s not about a workplace, it’s about wrapping community around people with similar interests.
“I see a lot more places opening up based on common interests, as more of a community.
“It’s not so much about the work getting done in those spaces as it is about people coming together to collaborate. Men’s-only, women’s-only… there’s a lot more to come in terms of special niches.
“[Nomadic Thinkers] is a prime example of people needing to come together… I don’t have a problem for men to get together to discuss issues.”
When asked if she thinks having an exclusive co-working space prevents diversity of thought, she said the success of the group will ride on whether it collaborates with other groups externally.
“The people who are coming together, the only way they are going to benefit is if they collaborate with other spaces,” she said.
“They need to create strong relationships with other communities. If you can’t do it internally you have to look outside with other groups.
“When people are creating homes for their community, as long as they have best interest of members in mind … then I think they have a viable business.
“If they are satisfying a need and coming up with a solution then I have no problem with it.”
Business Insider has contacted Nomadic Thinkers and are waiting to hear back.