There’s a steady line of women walking up and flashing their cell phones to a doorwoman at the Empire Control Room – a downtown Austin bar. But they’re not here just for drinks or a concert. There’s a meet-up for a local organization called Boss Babes ATX.
Inside, women are everywhere. Some are exchanging pleasantries, others business cards. On the stage, there’s a woman DJing and another about to speak into a microphone.
"Welcome to the first meet of the year for Boss Babes ATX," says Jane Claire Hervey, CEO of Boss Babes ATX. "I just did a spiel 15 minutes before, so if you’ve already been here a while I apologize for the repeat.”
There are more women in the workforce today than ever before, but it’s no secret that men continue to dominate the executive ranks and boardrooms. Boss Babes ATX is trying to foster a community among women in various industries, in hopes of building a brighter business future for all women.
Hervey says Boss Babes ATX is a relatively new organization. She started it with two friends when they were all feeling a little stalled out in their careers.
Ashlee Pryor coordinates events and content for the organization and she says the Boss Babe events gave her the connections that led to a new full-time job.
"I had kind of hit a plateau, and we were constantly getting together and trying to encourage and empower one another to keep going," Pryor says. "Then Jane had the crazy idea to help other people do it, and we thought that was a great idea, especially because we all have different crafts. We wanted to meet different people that did the same things as us."
Originally, they were hoping to recruit around 20 women for their group, but with more than 500 women in this venue, it looks like they’ve far exceeded their expectations.
“We clearly hit a nerve," Pryor says. "There was something missing in Austin that we’re not the only ones that needed it."
The meet-ups don’t just appeal to creatives, like the founders. They’re attracting women from all sorts of industries.
Accountant Heather Labus credits the meet-ups with tripling her business.
"Before I started going to the Boss Babes meet ups, I only had – let me see – five clients," Labus says. "And then, as soon as I started going to these meet ups, I got referral after referral."
Labus says most of the new clients are women she’s helping with back taxes and other accounting issues.
"I think a lot of women at these meets have felt like they were taken advantage of by larger CPA firms," Labus says. "Some of them even expressed that they felt uncomfortable working with older men. They just felt like they weren’t understood."
While these meet-ups are fun, and drinks are available, Hervey says the point isn't just to be social. It’s about women staking a claim to their career paths.
"It wasn’t like we sat down and we were like, 'It’d be super fun to get a bunch of women in one room and toast our champagne glasses to our empowered causes and businesses,'" Hervey says. "That’s not what it is. This really did grow out of trying to access and address inequality in industry, in creativity and in cultural interactions."
This month, Hervey and her co-founders plan to expand Boss Babes ATX with meet-ups in several cities across Texas and the U.S., maybe even worldwide.