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FIGHTING boring news & events
In Their Own Words

What It's Really Like To Be A Woman In Commercial Real Estate

There is something missing in the C-suite corner offices and late night deal-making sessions of the commercial real estate industry: women. Men dominate the jobs that start with “chief” or end with “VP,” and according to CREW Network, the income gap between men and women in the industry is 23.3%. In the C-suite it is worse. At Bisnow, we are proud that more than half of our employees are women, yet we struggle to diversify our senior ranks, and fill our event panels each year, with more women. As evidenced by the scores of women who now sit at the heads of boardroom tables, career trajectories for women have improved, but the oft-whispered grievance that it’s just one big “old boys’ club” survives. A palpable sense of disrespect, fear and frustration persists as women continue to grapple with wage disparity, sexism, upward mobility and sexual harassment. Some women feel left out, left behind and, at times, voiceless. Bisnow reached out to dozens of women from New York, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas — and everywhere in between — and granted them anonymity to answer one question: What is it really like to be a woman in this industry? These are the voices of 22 of the most powerful women in U.S. commercial real estate. They have developed, financed, designed and built some of the biggest properties in North America — and they have something to say.

 

Catie Dixon, Managing Editor | Mark F. Bonner, Editor-in-Chief

Click each image to view full quote.

“This is a completely male-dominated industry and you have to fight through that.”
LEGAL | NEW YORK | 15 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“He came up to me and stuck his tongue in my ear.”
BROKERAGE | ATLANTA | 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“I really don’t believe that my gender defines me in my field.”
CONSULTING | DALLAS | 30 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“Nothing is more fearful to men than a woman confidently in charge walking into a room.”
CONSTRUCTION | SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA | 25 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“I will never be one of the boys, but I have learned how to capitalize on that.”
FINANCIAL | NEW YORK | 28 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“He didn't know if he wanted to sleep with me or hire me.”
DEVELOPMENT | NEW YORK | 23 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“I did all the work of an executive management position but got paid less than the men.”
BROKERAGE | WASHINGTON, DC | 15 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“We seem to be our own worst enemies.”
BROKERAGE | DALLAS | 15 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“Does CRE tend to be a boys’ club? Yes, but this is changing.”
PROPERTY MANAGEMENT | PHILADELPHIA | 7 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“I have never once felt like a victim.”
BROKERAGE | HOUSTON | 25 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“There is a subtle level of sexism that is still present in the industry.”
MARKET RESEARCH | PHILADELPHIA | 28 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“I think the best way to get more women involved is to show women it’s possible.”
CONSTRUCTION | SPRINGFIELD, MASS. | 4 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“Discrimination does exist in the commercial real estate industry — gender, age, color and more.”
BROKERAGE | ATLANTA | 30 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“I was told at one point that I was hired over another applicant because I was better looking.”
ARCHITECTURE | HOUSTON | 16 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“People assumed I was there to take notes.”
FINANCIAL | NEW YORK | 25 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“Men were talking about their sexual escapades.”
RETAIL | WASHINGTON, DC | 2 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
"I don’t deny that being a woman is difficult in real estate, but it is just as difficult in corporate America and society in general."
BROKERAGE | NEW YORK | 13 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“The good news is that things are changing for the better.”
CONSTRUCTION | BOSTON | 28 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“It surprises me at this stage that there aren’t more daughters running family businesses.”
CONSTRUCTION | WORCESTER, MASS. | 30 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“It is still an ‘old boys’ club’ — even today.”
INVESTMENT | NEW YORK | 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“Speaking as a Millennial working woman and girl boss, we are downright tired.”
ARCHITECTURE | HOUSTON | 7 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +
“I am sure you were expecting horror stories of misogynistic behavior, catcalls and sexual harassment.”
CONSTRUCTION | WASHINGTON, DC | 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE +