Women maneuver for a place in commercial real estate companies

Women finding keys to success with commercial real estate companies.

In 2010, "Women in Commercial Real Estate," a national study conducted by the CREW network, found that, despite the increasing number of women entering the commercial real estate field, that a pay gap still exists. 

Women today are paid, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men.

Only 8 percent of women brokers in 2005 earned $250,000 or more. In 2010, women earning at that level increased to 11 percent, while men in the same category declined from 34 to 31 percent.

"More and more women are being recognized for the tremendous value they bring to the commercial real estate industry and their compensation should reflect this," Gail Ayers, CREW Network CEO, told Reuters. "Our study shows that the wage gap is narrowing, but in this day and age, it is disappointing that this gap still exists. Our goal is that studies such as ours will continue to bring awareness to our industry of the disparities that exist and in turn create opportunities for change."

While prospects continue to improve for women in commercial real estate with the passing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, businesses becoming more accessible, and more women entering the real estate workforce, women still only compose a fraction of commercial real estate professionals.

Nature vs. Nurture
According to The Wall Street Journal, only nine of about 88 commercial real estate brokers at Colliers International are women. Meanwhile, at Cushman & Wakefield,15 percent of brokers are women; at CBRE, only 12 percent of their workforce is made up by women.

The problem, Mary Tighe, chief executive of CBRE, says, is that, more often than not, the decision-makers are men who feel more comfortable with other men, who share "some element of commonality. It's more natural for men to have people working for them that they would meet in the course of their life. That's why you have a lot of guys who play basketball together."

Tighe also notes that many brokerage firms use a mentor model, and there aren't many senior female brokers for young female professionals to choose from.

Women have long been considered successful residential brokers. Many women who grow tired of climbing the male-dominated ranks of big brokerages simply opt to create their own. 

"Females crave the flexibility of their own companies," Jennifer Carey, president of the Association of Real Estate Women, told The Wall Street Journal. 

A study conducted in 2010, pointed out Carey, showed a 7 percent increase of women in commercial real estate, whereas women in senior executive level positions has dropped by 13 percent.

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