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Thursday Is Bring A Girl To CRE Day

Only 35% of CRE professionals are female, according to the Commercial Real Estate Women Network — a group founded in 1989 that now has some 12,000 members. The group aims to boost that figure by organizing "Bring a Girl to CRE Day" this Thursday, April 25. It is the same day that many Americans celebrate Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. 

The Fearless Girl statue at the New York Stock Exchange.

"CRE is not a career [young women] learn about in school," CREW Chief Marketing Officer Laura Lewis said. "It's not a clear career path. You might major in finance and end up in a job at a CRE firm, or go to law school and end up in real estate."

Take Our Daughters To Work Day was created by the Ms. Foundation for Women in 1992, and later expanded to include boys.

Lewis said the industry skews male for a variety of reasons: Many CRE businesses started out as family endeavors (often founded by men and taken over by sons), and that women may avoid risk-taking and commission-based jobs both early in their careers when they need steady paychecks and mid-career, when they have children.

CREW has its 30th anniversary this year and its leaders thought that piggybacking on the nationwide event was a great way to celebrate by introducing more girls to CRE, where the starting salary is a decent $56,978.

However, CREW's most recent benchmark survey of the industry found a significant income gap between men and women. In 2015, the median total annual compensation (including bonuses, compensation and profit sharing) was $150K for men and $115K for women, a 23.3% difference. It gets starker up the ladder: of those earning more than $1M annually, the men averaged $3.21M, the women, $1.35M. 

This Thursday, some CREW chapters around the country are organizing special events, as are some real estate businesses. Construction engineering firm Clayco is inviting girls in to learn about everything from construction to architecture to graphic design and finance with hands-on activities, a building tour, refreshments, giveaways and a chance to win an iPad.

Brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap is also hosting events. Ocea Huggins, Marcus & Millichap's operations manager for Orlando and Jacksonville, said the brokerage is celebrating on Friday (which she says is National Bring Your Child to Work Day) and 12 kids are lined up so far.

"It’s one of our office's favorite traditions," she said.

Individual CRE professionals can join in, too. CREW suggests letting girls shadow you, setting up meetings with colleagues (use the conference room to make it feel official), planning a fun power lunch and writing up an agenda that you share with the students ahead of time. Because women think of everything, the CREW team has even drafted a downloadable excused-absence letter.

In Miami, CREW's chapter president, Keren Marti, the national account manager at First American Title Insurance Co., said her organization is encouraging participants to share their experiences on social media. She said young women who catch the CRE bug can get even more deeply involved in the industry through mentoring programs like the CREW Careers program or U Crew, or a chapter mentoring program that helps women get trained, find jobs, ask for raises and become entrepreneurs.

"We want girls and women to know that careers in CRE are open to them," she said.