We live in a world and in societies where gender inequality is often cited, rightly, as an evil that has no place. Pay disparity still exists in most industries, while women still do not get access to the same opportunities as their male counterparts. It is an unjust situation, although things are slowly changing for the better.
Women in Real Estate
One industry where female participants have made leaps and bounds over the years is in the real estate business. Indeed, according to the 2017 member profile of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in the United States, 63% of the makeup were female. There are very few sectors that can lay claim to such a fact, and it marks a significant victory for inclusiveness in the business, although closer inspection of pay still reveals obstacles to overcome.
Influential Examples of Women in Real Estate
But this majority population of women is making things happen. And a debt of gratitude is owed to one Corrine Simpson, who in 1908 became the first female member of the NAR. It is Simpson who has paved the way for the likes of Dani Rosenthal, a realtor from California who recently made the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America. Rosenthal has blazed a trail in the industry, showing other women what is possible, and achieving everything after an initial career change to boot. For her part, Rosenthal has always stated that she finds it a sector that empowers women and provides the opportunity for women to further themselves.
Becky Ashby, of Ashby and Graff in California, is also making waves due to her company’s approach to diversity and equality. Her firm also battles on behalf of marginalized segments of society in the housing sector and is helping to slowly change that image of the industry as being one that puts profit before people. That couldn’t be further from the truth in the case of Ashby and Graff.
Similarly, that’s an approach that Kim Howard, in the Chicago real estate market, has taken to heart, helping people find affordable housing solutions in the city, which began as no mean feat. Once again, Howard is an example of a woman inspiring a sea of change in the traditional approach of realtors, and certainly projecting a better image of the industry.
Is the Game-Changing?
So, is the real estate industry being changed by the abundance of women working in the sector? The examples of Rosenthal, Ashby, and Howard would suggest ‘yes’, it is. And with the ratio currently standing at about 2:1 in favor of women within the industry, this influence will inevitably grow.
But other than the gender make-up of the industry, meaning that prospective buyers and renters are more likely to deal with a female agent or broker than a male one, how is this manifesting in a change for the way the industry conducts itself?
The industry is becoming more inclusive, with minorities playing an increasingly vital role in the delivery of the services real estate provides. It is also shaping the way properties are viewed when they are viewed, and the style of service that customers can expect when they are hunting for a property.
Why Are Women Attracted to the Real Estate Business?
It is important to stay away from gender stereotypes when exploring why more and more women are attracted to the real estate business, but it is also true to say that traditional gender roles have undoubtedly influenced the evolution. Women were traditionally the homemakers while the men went out to work, and although we are happy to report this situation has now changed, women still play a central role in home life, even if it is done so while balancing a career. And as the experts at what it takes to run a busy household, many women have always had a keen eye on what a house needs to be a successful and comfortable home. Why would that not convert from a personal to a professional perspective?
The truth is, if you are looking for a home, there are incredibly professional female representatives out there who have empathy in terms of what you are looking for, and have a great perspective in terms of what works for you and what doesn’t. Again, not wanting to fall into any holes in terms of gender stereotyping, but who is more likely to understand the full package in terms of what a property needs to have for a family, meaning access to schools, the importance of the local community, security, and other conditions which exist outside of the four walls of the property itself?
The fact is that many women possess the knowledge, expertise, professionalism, empathy, instinct, and personability to make great real estate agents. They can assess the needs of the prospective party in double quick time, and therefore offer to them the properties that they know will make sense to them. This takes not only skill but also takes an intuition that fundamentally suits women, perhaps in some cases more than men, although it is important not to generalize.
And there is one more important factor bringing women into the real estate business, and that is the flexibility that the industry offers in terms of working hours. With viewings often scheduled outside of conventional working hour times, such as in the evenings and on weekends, this affords those women who are balancing family life the opportunity to play a vital role in the function of successful real estate business. Part-time and flexible working hours are generally more readily on offer in the industry than in some other sectors, and this has certainly facilitated many women’s moves either back into real estate, or into the profession for the first time.
Having said that, that number of 63% represents full-time workers, so it would be unfair to categorize female workers in the industry as part-time only. Indeed, as the three women mentioned in the examples above are conclusive proof of, women are not just making up the numbers, but are owning the businesses and shaping the direction of the entire real estate industry in the United States and beyond. This is a revolution that really will change the way we live or at least the way that we find the place in which we will live.
This article has been contributed by Mildred Delgado.