THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE AN ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT AND A BIT OF MOXIE.
ACHIEVING EQUAL OPPORTUNITY For over 100 years, women in real estate primarily performed administrative duties. By the late 1800s, however, many had become brokers and agents. Although about 3,000 women were working as brokers in the U.S. at the time the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) was formed in 1908, its membership was made up of only men. In 1910, Corrine Simpson of Seattle became the first female member of NAR. Today, the organization’s membership is predominately female with over two-thirds majority, but a 2015 Urban Land Institute survey found that only 14% of real estate CEOs were women. More women now occupy brokerage positions than ever before (29%), a 6% increase from 2015. Even though women now account for over two- thirds of NAR’s membership, they had to wait 40 years to serve on real estate association boards.
NAR didn’t explicitly ban women from joining, but they did require local board membership and those boards did explicitly ban women. As a result, the Women’s Council of REALTORS® was established in 1938 and is now an affiliate of NAR with a membership of 10,500 professional women employed in real estate. Most boards dropped gender restrictions by the early 1950s, but it would be 1992 before the first woman, Dorcas Helfant-Browing, was elected to lead NAR. Unfortunately, the Great Depression halted women’s progress in the industry for a decade. About two-thirds of female brokers left the field between 1930 and 1940. Women held these positions post-World War II, taking advantage of the influx of new single family homes being built in the suburbs and the corresponding increase in homeownership following the establishment of VA-loans.
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