Real estate has for a long time been a masculine landscape with little to no representation of women. In the last few decades, the industry has witnessed a significant increase in the number of women who have joined the workforce and become independent in their careers. From realtors to brokers to buyers, women are playing larger roles in leading the different sectors of real estate. Women now hold over 40% of commercial real estate positions worldwide - truly impressive when the NAR had zero women recruited just over a century ago. That being said, the pay gap between male and female counterparts still holds much room for improvement and the female experience in the industry still has many challenges to overcome.
Here is a snapshot of what women in real estate looks like around the world.
USA - In the United States, men make up 65% of the CRE workforce, paralleling trends in other countries, while women make up the remaining 35%.
- The Commercial Real Estate Women Network (CREW) conducted a study in 2019 that revealed only 15% of top real estate management positions were held by women.
- The average pay gap also leaves much room for improvement, as women earn an average $115,000 to the $150,000 that men earn annually on average.
- 40% of males aspire to reach C-level positions, but only 20% of women do.
- 47% of women aspire to reach SVP/Partner but don’t aspire to reach any further than that in their career.
- Women cite lack of sponsor and/or mentor as being the most significant barrier to climbing further up the career ladder.
- Women are 54% less likely to have a sponsor than a man, (someone who can advise or actively help in the advancement of their career).
Canada - Women represent 37% of the overall CRE workforce in Canada.
- Women achieve more parity in property and asset management positions
- However, they fall short when it comes to filling in leadership or C-suite positions.
- Women make up just 16% of board directors in real estate in Canada
- Lower down the career ladder, Canadian women make up 24% of executive positions in real estate, far below the equality line.
UK - In CRE in the UK, the pay gap is almost twice as large as the national average.
- Women in CRE experience a 27% pay gap, while average gap is 14%
- In the average UK real estate company, 40% of top-quartile earners are female, but in CRE, the figure is just 26%.
- The UK has a higher concentration of men in senior real estate management positions than women overall
- The Crown Estate is the only company where women are paid more than men, and where more women fill senior roles than men.
- 64% of female real estate agents receive their salary from sales commissions, and earn on average less than men.
Sweden - According to this 2016 report by the The Association of Swedish Real Estate Agents, the number of registered active real estate agents reached a record of 6,834 agents.
- Of this number, 46% were female (a considerable leap from 1994 statistics, when only 17% of real estate agents were women).
- Of the 7,309 new registrations made between 2005 and 2015, 56% were made by women and 44% by men
- This is attributed to the female student majority in Sweden’s real estate agent programmes.
- Female agents make up a 63% share of all agents under 30 years of age
- In the largest age group of 30-39 years, distribution of gender is equal
Australia - While women account for about 65% of the real estate industry in all its different streams, only a handful work at the top jobs.
- In the 1950s, only around 15% of Australian real estate agents were female; now the gap is closing with women making up 48% of all agents.
- One of the main concerns female agents have is the lack of female role models to aspire to or imitate in the industry.
- In recent years there have been programs set up to tackle this very issue - with top performing women leaders in the industry founding female networking groups where they coach and mentor other female agents, such as Real Women in Real Estate with over 3000 members, or digital live initiatives where women in the industry share their experiences via podcast to help other women.
- Women make more purchasing decisions, and Australian RE is starting to place more emphasis on the importance of female staff, as market research has revealed that female clients prefer dealing with female agents when buying or selling properties.
- A new phenomenon is emerging with more ‘all female offices’ - PRDnationwide, McGrath and Progressive Realty are examples of real estate companies that have offices with an all-female staff.
Although there is so much more progress to be seen, it’s clear that women in real estate sectors around the world are breaking through the glass ceiling more than ever before, and using technology and social media to further their influence. Just in the last few years, we’re seeing compiled lists of ‘top female agents to follow’ in X country, be it on Instagram or Youtube. It is women encouraging and subscribing to other women agents and real estate professionals, realizing that ‘carry as you climb’ is an elevated form of networking - women can continue to break traditional barriers by drawing strength from collective, not just individual successes, and by helping each other win.