With the election cycle in full swing, the issue of gender equality has once again come to the forefront of the national agenda, as both candidates lead us to believe that the pay gap between men and women is still vast and beyond our reach. But while it is true that challenges still remain toward gender parity in the workforce, we cannot overlook or ignore the fact that women professionals have made major strides in traditionally male-dominated industries.
While parity gaps still exist between men and women with respect to salaries, statistics show that these gaps are shrinking, particularly in industries that have historically been dominated by men. For example, according to the national commercial real estate association CREW Network (Commercial Real Estate Women), women are entering commercial real estate at a faster pace than they were five years ago – 43 percent today, compared to 36 percent in 2005.
Most interesting about these findings is why more women are entering the commercial real estate sector. Simply put, there are more opportunities in the field across the board. In the past, women usually assisted men on brokerage teams. Today, more women are entering the field because there are more opportunities for them to succeed as the lead broker, lender, developer or attorney. All are involved in the deal-making process.
Nowhere else is this more apparent than in South Florida, where women are helming major brokerage firms, serving as equity partners at top-ranking law firms and sitting at the executive table of the region’s largest community banks. In fact, an assessment of some of the region’s biggest real estate deals reveals that the majority of these are those whereby women have played a leading role, including a 150,000 square foot lease secured in Doral on behalf of the Miami Herald; a $50 million refinance of the Grand Beach Hotel; and the 25,000 square foot lease at 1450 Brickell in Miami on behalf of Berger Singerman.
An underlying factor in each of these deals is that all of the women involved were members of CREW-Miami, the local affiliate of CREW Network. For 25 years, this organization has helped women advance within the profession and today is almost evenly split among men and women — a prime example of how women are now not only being taken seriously within the profession, but looked to for their experience and influence. In fact, in the past year alone, CREW-Miami has grown its male membership base by more than 20 percent.
This may be one of the best measures of reaching gender parity within the profession. By having more women in leadership roles in the commercial real estate industry and executing high-profile transactions, we are also paving the way for young women to look at real estate as a prospective career.
As CREW-Miami celebrates its 25th anniversary, it is a good time to reflect on the advancements that have been made, which have all helped to define our industry and shape our region. Yes, it is true that we are (hopefully) exiting one of the most tumultuous and economically straining periods in our collective history. But as we enter the next chapter of Miami’s real estate story, we should see a leveled playing field where men and women are not only doing deals together, but helping one another succeed.