how to find or create women-only gatherings, groups, clubs, and meetups?
August 13, 2015 12:29 PM   Subscribe

I just got back from a week in a women-only environment and apparently I had no idea how desperately I've always needed to avail myself of a space like that. How do I find other women-only gatherings? Or how can I start one of my own?

Most of my friends are dudes, it's been that way my whole life, and every single one of my female friends who lives within 100+ miles of me is partnered and hangs out exclusively with their own (male) partners, other couples, and/or everyone's babies and kids. The idea of a straight-up women's night out is, for a variety of reasons and at least at this particular juncture, a complete non-starter for them.

So I'm willing to take up literally any kind of hobby, practice, or topic in pursuit of this goal. I'm a total extrovert and starting conversations with strangers is pretty much my favorite thing in the world, so the pure socializing/introductory aspect won't be a problem. My only caveats are that I don't want to have anything to do with any kind of church/religion, and I'm both childfree and unpartnered by choice so mom and TTC groups are out, as is anything related to college (never went, never will). If there are groups that are theoretically co-ed but functionally women-only, I would love to hear about those, too. I'm in my mid-30s but I'd sure as hell love to throw down with some legit crones.

Discovering what it feels like to socialize and gather in a woman-only environment was like being airlifted into a lush, shady oasis after spending 30 years wandering in the desert. So until I can move out to some women's land and not have to worry about this ever again, can you help me surround myself with as many women as possible, as often as possible?

Thanks, AskMe! ♡♀♡
posted by divined by radio to Society & Culture (32 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Consider yoga retreats, knitting and other crafts classes, and book clubs. You are pretty much guaranteed an all woman milieu.
posted by bearwife at 12:33 PM on August 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

How do you feel about sports? If you live in a decent sized city there are quite likely to be women's leagues - for instance, here is a [incomplete] list of social sports organizations in Seattle and several of them are women-only/have a women's league. Most adult leagues I've played in have had a way for beginners to get into it, if you don't play anything currently. There are also several female running groups here, worth looking for in your city as well.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:41 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would see if a gym/studio near you has group Pilates/yoga/dance/kickboxing classes that you might enjoy. Some gyms are officially "women only", but this variety of classes is likely to be mostly or all women (as opposed to more "boot camp"-style classes). Knitting or quiliting could also be good options.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:44 PM on August 13, 2015

Here in philadelphia there are many women only groups on for dining, happy hours, potlucks, technology, etc. Check to see if there are any in your area.
posted by TheAdamist at 12:46 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

it's not clear from your profile what you do at work (if anything). my partner is an academic and regularly has "aquelarres" (covens, in english) where she invites all the women from her work to our apartment (generally while i hide in the study). it's mainly the younger profs / students but they sound to have a pretty good time. she just sends an email round the dept, as far as i know.
posted by andrewcooke at 12:46 PM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Checkout for some local groups? There’s a bunch of knitters who meet up in one of my local pubs & seem to have a great time to give but one example...
posted by pharm at 12:46 PM on August 13, 2015

If you're at all interested in coding, there are quite a few women-only coding classes/groups. Meetup would have these as well.
posted by rebekah at 12:47 PM on August 13, 2015

Check out your local meetups (example for wording, if you'd like to start your own), or start a women-only maker space.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:48 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, check out! I've been to a handful of strictly-women meetups (one I still attend regularly, for Ruby programmers) and I've found them all on meetup.

For "generally women" groups, check out if your local fabric or yarn store has or sponsors a work night (aka Stitch and Bitch, Cocktails and Crafts, Pints and Purls) - I feel like there is generally one or two guys at the events I go to, though.

Also loads of physical activity kinds of things have women-only classes - fitness, sailing, whatever.
posted by mskyle at 12:53 PM on August 13, 2015

Nthing meetup! In my city, there's a geeky women meetup for example which is non-dudes only, which has things like book clubs and craft nights and board game nights. Knitting groups or other crafting groups also tend to be exclusively or almost exclusively female. Dog training courses, if you have a dog, are heavily skewed female, and volunteering at animal shelters often skews female too. Volunteering in general tends to have a lot of women involved, really--doesn't have to be at a church. You could see if you have anything like the Lilith Fund near you--I bet they could use volunteers for fundraising, and I bet that's going to be nearly all women.
posted by sciatrix at 1:10 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The knitting class I went to through Milwaukee parks n' rec was 100% women. I haven't been in a book club in awhile but they were always all women. There's at least one lesbian bar though for obvs reasons I haven't been in that scene for awhile.

There are plenty of women's kickball, softball and other sports-type groups around - if you're into that let me know & I can find out when/where from my network.
posted by desjardins at 1:12 PM on August 13, 2015

Get to the Twin Oaks Women's Gathering if you can -- will have a high concentration of women who know many other women's gatherings. (And if you can't get there, they will be very happy to tell you their favorite other gatherings in the same spirit.)
posted by kalapierson at 1:13 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Wisconsin Humane Society volunteer events I went to were 90% women. The trainers are 100% women.
posted by desjardins at 1:15 PM on August 13, 2015

I met some great women doing belly dance -- we started out just in-class friends but then ended up socializing a lot outside of class. But I also suspect that if you posted on Meetup (or put a flyer up in your favorite coffeeshop/bookstore) and said exactly what you've said here, you'd attract a lot of like-minded individuals just for drinking or hanging out with no nominal activity excuse. The benefit of the activity is that you get to learn an activity; the down side is that classes can be expensive.
posted by babelfish at 1:17 PM on August 13, 2015

Perhaps the most successful and popular meet-up locally is a women's group that exists for exactly the reason you stated - any activity, but let's just do it away from the dynamic that guys bring. If there isn't an active one where you are, I suggest you start one. I know the woman who started the Burlington area one found it incredibly rewarding.
posted by meinvt at 1:34 PM on August 13, 2015

You could run a one-off get-together for sure!

Consider mindfulness meditation, hiking, and reading romance novels. The romance novel reading & writing community skews very heavily female.
posted by brainwane at 2:12 PM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I know you said no religion but I have attended several wonderful retreats held at catholic convents. Nuns aren't into proselytizing so god never came up. Look around for rural convents that may be holding such events on beautiful grounds (the one near me has a labrynth, a medieval medicine garden, a beach and a forest, all less than an hour from downtown Toronto).
posted by saucysault at 2:32 PM on August 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Become a Girl Scout volunteer and go on lots of trainings. In theory adult training sessions co-ed, but most I've been to have been all-women or maybe 2% male. No religion required, you don't have to be a parent, super-duper feminist in a practical way.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:47 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bike collectives usually have women's nights.
posted by aniola at 3:05 PM on August 13, 2015

I'm a fairly radical feminist, and I don't like very girly things, but I enjoy quilting. The groups I am in are 98% female, but men are welcome to join if they think they'd enjoy the craft. (I've also heard that knitters are nice.)
posted by puddledork at 3:20 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Could you organise a follow-up from the week you just enjoyed?
posted by freya_lamb at 3:21 PM on August 13, 2015

Also came to suggest quilting.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:53 PM on August 13, 2015

I know for a fact that there are female only meet ups here in town, so I'll third or fourth that suggestion. Check them out!
posted by Fister Roboto at 3:55 PM on August 13, 2015

May have crossed paths with you this weekend, sister...! You could see if there are any local/regional meetups near you for the event you attended. Search out their Facebook groups. Women there might have some local suggestions for you.
posted by shepard at 4:29 PM on August 13, 2015

I recently joined a roller derby team and it has been wonderful.
posted by coppermoss at 4:45 PM on August 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm part of an explicitly feminist, all-women theater collective, and it's awesome. (I'm now a long-distance member but still consider myself a member.) You could start an all-women group creating some kind of art that appeals to you - a poetry reading, a writing group, music, some kind of performance, etc. Or for something lower-key you could convene women to go enjoy art together - everyone go see Mad Max together and talk about it afterwards, or something.

Good luck with it! Being in an all-female space is such a wonderful, refreshing, restorative experience. I really missed getting to hang out in that space regularly when I moved away from my theater collective. Hope you find/build an amazing space for yourself.
posted by aka burlap at 5:44 PM on August 13, 2015

I volunteer at a horse stable that gives physical therapy to disabled kids through riding. It's theoretically coed, but the whole place is 95% female: riders, instructors, administrators, physical therapists, and volunteers. Everybody but the horses.

Places like this are all OVER - don't let the rural sound of it put you off, if you're in a city! I'm in Atlanta and never knew this place was hiding in the city. Turns out there are six similar programs within a half-hour's drive of my house.

Hippotherapy programs (generally) all take volunteers, even those with zero horse experience. I cannot recommend it highly enough - it is my favorite thing. The overwhelming female-ness of the place is a big bonus, and we have the whole range of ages - I get to hang out with seven-year-old girls and seventy-year-old superwomen.

Please feel free to message me if you like!
posted by jessicapierce at 7:21 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Battered-women's shelters generally are 100% women, with men providing off-site courses/childcare.
posted by Jesse the K at 12:15 PM on August 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do you identify as queer? Look into Dyke March events in your city. They're usually the night or two before the pride parade. Organizing the event and then marching through your city streets with women is freaking amazing. Truly incredible in terms of experiencing the urban environment in ways that are never otherwise possible. Even if you're not queer, you can definitely go to the March. Double check if they'd still welcome organization assistance but the event itself is highly recommended.

Also - become a fan of women's basketball and women's soccer. It's super fun to travel to the NWSL games with other women, tailgate with them, etc. It's like no sports event you've ever experienced and it's super fun.

Animal rescue is nearly 100% women in most groups.
posted by barnone at 9:54 PM on August 14, 2015

If you're into craft beer, I love our local Girls Pint Out group.
posted by mostly vowels at 7:33 PM on August 15, 2015

Do you live in Milwaukee? I do, and I am regularly going out with just women. Most of them are moms, but not all. We are in the same age range too. So, if you are in MKE, I think you just haven't found the right circle yet. Agree with Roller Derby, knitting groups, book clubs.
posted by sulaine at 7:38 PM on August 15, 2015

I third the suggestion to try volunteering at an animal shelter or rescue group. I felt like I'd parachuted into a lake of goodwill and camaraderie, and I was dealing with crippling social anxiety at the time. A room full of fluffy kittens didn't hurt either. It is fully kitten season right now, btw! Have I mentioned the fluffiness? (So fluffy.)
posted by iamleda at 12:35 AM on August 17, 2015

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