2015 – The Year of the Woman?

For the first time in modern American history, both major political parties have women as serious contenders in the primary line-up for the 2016 presidential race. Hillary Clinton is considered the front runner for the Democrats, and Carly Fiorina continues to hold her own on a stage dominated by men. So will 2015 be the year of the woman?

Women make up half of the workforce in America, but according to this report, they earn 79 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same or equivalent job. According to the NAR Field Guide for Women in Real Estate, women have been involved in the real estate industry since its inception in 1794 and by the 1880’s were involved as real estate agents and brokers. In the real estate industry, women make up more than half of the REALTOR® population, but are markedly under-represented in the C-suites of the dominant real estate franchises and companies across the nation.

This month, Inforum Center for Leadership released a report about the leadership roles and standing in Michigan’s largest companies. In a statement summarizing the conclusions of the study, Terry Barclay, President and CEO of Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership made the following observations:

In 2015 women occupy 11.5 percent of boardroom seats in the state’s top 100 companies – their share down slightly from 11.6 percent since 2013. Women’s representation among the top earners in their companies has declined from 9.6 percent two years ago to 8 percent in 2015. And women today hold 13 percent of executive officer positions – exactly their share in 2013.

There is clearly more work to be done if we are to truly create an environment in which there is equitable opportunity for all Americans to thrive and perform in their chosen fields of excellence. Failing to utilize our talent pool effectively will eventually marginalize our industry because the ability to attract and retain the best people, no matter what gender, color, race, creed, religion, or orientation they come from will be critical for competition on the global stage.

The Women’s Council of REALTORS® general session this year will feature a panel, moderated by Denise Lones, featuring three women who have broken through the glass ceiling into the boardrooms of some major real estate companies. Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens, resurrected an aging brand and created a powerhouse for the new millennium. She will be joined on stage by Tammy Bonnell, a thirty year veteran of the real estate industry and president of the US Corporation of Exit Realty, and Kathy Neu, Executive Director of Keller Williams Cares and President of Luxury Homes.

As I look forward to hearing these veteran pioneers speak, here are some questions on my mind:

  1. What were some of the critical career moves that you made which provided opportunity or much needed experience that was required to shift into your current role?
  2. How should women interested in leadership within the industry prepare?
  3. What role did mentorship play in your career path?
  4. Why are there not more women in leadership roles in major US real estate brokerages? How can we change that?

5-Time Featured Attendee

Lola is a first generation American. During the past 20 years as a REALTOR® and broker, she has had the pleasure of providing professional guidance during real estate transactions for people from all over the globe.


  1. Interesting because such a large majority of REALTORS® are women and yet there was not one woman on the leadership team at NAR in 2015.

    1. Interesting and disheartening. The numbers do not lie and in this case I think marginalize the potential for the industry to move forward in a way that maximizes the full potential of talent and thought leadership which is vitally necessary to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  2. Very cool. I think when we look at leadership in the real estate we cannot be too hard on the gender issue or our industry. Our industry did the best they could in the past. With the dawn of masters in real estate and more universities educating REALTORS® the gender issue will clean up itself…let’s face it we had a lot of uneducated leaders in this industry who over time will be replaced or bought out. They learned the ropes from street smarts….they did the best they could. Many married couples became owners and it appears many husbands played the CEO role…it is how this industry grew from being a mom and pop business, to a family business, to now a brokerage business. The issue of gender in the real estate industry will be cleaned up at the university level and outside the industry. We have to let the leaders save face. They did their best and highly educated women will change the rules at university and with creating new laws. The issue of gender and excellent leadership will clean up very fast now. It is a new dawn. If you are female and you do not like the stats go back and get your masters in real estate and meet me at The Capital….this is so easy to change. Let’s thank those that tried in the past and let’s move the bar with excellent female leadership inveducation, skills, leadership, and sales. Grail

  3. Hi Grail, thank you for your comments. I do think the degree in real estate is important to the professionalism that the industry is striving for. However, I would disagree that a Masters in Real Estate is the only route or even the most expedient. We have many women in real estate who have degrees in management, economics, and business already. More importantly, we have women across the nation who have demonstrated competence, courage, and innovation in leadership roles. We need their voices at the table today, not tomorrow…

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