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What Women Want


2014 has been the Year of the Woman, with an increasing number of professional females entering the C-suite. (Good, it was starting to smell pretty musty in there.) But two factors are still holding them back.


The economy and low quit rate have tempered the number of women making it to C-suite and management positions, says Steadfast Apartment REIT president Ella Shaw Neyland. People at the top tier are not moving off corporate boards or out of CEO positions, limiting spots for upwardly mobile women who've worked their way into previously male-dominated fields and positions. (Basically, folks don't have enough confidence in a new job to quit and move elsewhere, something Fed chair Janet Yellen's been watching.) Not having women in top positions can hurt: Public companies with women on their corporate boards for three years or more have stronger revenue than those with none, research firm Ferguson Partners says.


There weren’t many commercial real estate women at the helm when Ella started in the business 35 years ago. Even today in Ella’s space, there are still only a handful of women running REITs (like Ventas CEO Debra Cafaro, above, snapped with president Raymond Lewis). But having commercial real estate power women at the top speaks volumes, Ella says. A more collegial culture should pull others up there as time passes and women’s impact on business becomes more widely known.


Women now earn more college degrees than men, are marrying and having kids later, and are significantly more career focused than generations past, Ella says. (Even Rosie the Riveter has quite the LinkedIn profile.) These trends have spurred top-down and bottom-up changes in commercial real estate, and many of the major players have created mentorship and sponsorship programs to grow women's careers. We'd love to hear what your companies are doing; click our survey above to tell us more.