It’s past time to examine how gender impacts money, professional progress and safety. Here are the six major challenges women in real estate face and what we can do about them.

This April, one of Inman’s most popular recurring theme months returns: Back to Basics. All month, real estate professionals from across the country share what’s working for them, how they’ve evolved their systems and tools, and where they’re investing personally and professionally to drive growth in 2022. It’s always smart to go Back to Basics with Inman.

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Over the past few weeks, on Inman’s Agent Edge, we’ve explored many of the dynamics that women face in real estate today — because it’s Women’s History Month and Leadership Month, and women now make up 65 percent of the industry.

And also, it’s time.

There are six categories that come up time and time again for women in real estate: Pay inequality, limited leadership roles, lack of career advancement, gender discrimination, lack of mentorship, and the ever-present safety concerns.

Below, whether you’re a man or a woman, an agent or a leader in some other capacity, we’ve rounded up ideas from contributors and staffers on how to forge a brighter future for females in real estate in each respective area.

Pay inequality

There’s a prevailing narrative that women are bad at negotiating because they lack skills or aren’t aggressive enough to ask for what they want. 

According to 2021 research from the Journal of Applied Psychology, the only area in which women fell behind men was when they chose to assert themselves; they received backlash for causing a disparity in the negotiation process. 

“’Possessing a strong alternative might give women a justification for setting more ambitious targets, behaving more assertively, and claiming more value than they otherwise would,’ [researchers] write,” Kim Elsesser reported in Forbes.

One of the study’s authors, Jennifer Dannals, noted that the assumption that women are responsible for the wage gap is a tough thing to combat because it’s based on an unconscious bias.

The prescription for changing the narrative, according to Dannals, is for women to train more at negotiation. As for the backlash, we don’t quite know enough to make a conclusion, but recommend creating a hospitable environment through hiring, training on diversity, and creating a culture that values and prioritizes inclusivity and equity. 

Negotiate better without saying a word: 7 tips for real estate

Take a tip from actors, attorneys and a door-to-door salesman to keep your non-verbal communication skills on-point, says Christy Murdock. Then, stay focused and mindful to make the best possible impression throughout any negotiation.

How to strengthen your negotiation chops

Sharpening your negotiation skills will ensure you are equipped to represent clients and provide the best possible service. And just like anything else, you’ll need constant practice. Here are a few tips to help you.

10 tips for working with picky homebuyer clients

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions of a person’s life. Being a good agent means offering your expertise and honest opinions to your clients. It also means understanding how to deal with tough buyers while maintaining a healthy working relationship.

Working with international buyers? 5 tips for better non-verbal communication

You don’t have to memorize long lists of rules to get better at communicating with your international clients. Just be open to the process and willing to learn, says marketing expert Christy Murdock. You probably can’t master every cue, but you can keep yourself on firm footing by following these tips.

Gender discrimination

The “old boys club” was a term that came up over and over (and in a few more places, too) when we asked about what it’s like to be a woman in real estate today. Not much elaboration was given, which is fairly typical, likely because of the trolling, reputation damage and hate mail that often accompany speaking up in today’s digital world (read on for more on that). Below is an exploration of common discriminatory behaviors women in real estate face. 

‘The Old Boys Network’: Relic or reality?

Just saying the phrase makes some roll their eyes, some foam at the mouth, and others shift into denial mode. What is the “Old Boys Network” and how can women beat the old boys at their own game?

That’s not OK: The harassment women real estate agents face online

Be your authentic self online, they said. According to Rachael Hite, that’s easier said than done for many women in real estate who face judgment, harassment (and worse) just for posting. It’s past time to stop it.

What is toxic femininity? Here’s how to combat it in real estate

Though not as well-known as its masculine counterpart, toxic femininity can be just as destructive. Here’s how to check for it and overcome its insidious effect on your life and career.

Men, we need to learn when to shut up

You may have the best intentions in the world and even consider yourself an advocate for women (I do). Sometimes, as I’ve learned lately, you just have to shut up and listen, says Jay Thompson, and right now is one of those times.

Career advancement

Wearing many hats is part of the gig in real estate. For women, who experts say are both socialized to say yes and conditioned that saying no is bad behavior, time management can be a massive challenge. 

“Opportunities for women have expanded in recent years, and for some women this has added pressure to say ‘yes’ to all things, simply because now we are told so much more is possible: go to college, get the job, find the spouse, have the kids, buy the house,” USA Today reported in 2021. (This phenomenon was compounded by the pandemic, often at the cost of women’s mental health.)

“You can make a difference from your first day in the office,” Sheryl Sandberg told MSNBC in 2018, COO of Facebook and author of “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” “Sit at the table; let your voice be heard.”

Experts suggest that women overcome this hurdle by learning to think about saying no as a right, rather than a privilege, expect more from the men in their lives and learn to set boundaries. Here are a few ways to set boundaries, say no (appropriately) and speak up.  

Give yourself grace: 9 truths women need to hear now

Whether you’re just starting out or scaling up, you may need to take a somewhat different approach to creating leverage in your life and business than your male counterparts. Here are some ideas that are designed to help you get more done and the permission you may need to keep your eye on the things that matter most.

How to give feedback to your boss or leadership team

Success in work and life happens one conversation at a time, according to team leader Adam Hergenrother. The more feedback you give and get, the better everyone will become.

Bad bosses? 5 rotten apple red flags and what to do next

Agents are supposed to be able to look up to their brokers and leadership team for professional guidance. However, what do you do when the ones in charge are the problems?

‘Hon, can you get me a cup of coffee?’ Creating a more gender-inclusive working environment

Most of us bring certain expectations to our interactions with others, often based on our prior experiences or assumptions. By looking at our own unconscious bias and prioritizing tough conversations, we can ensure that everyone feels valued in the workplace.

Don’t fire that client! Set boundaries right from the get-go

Heading off frustrating experiences with demanding clients often comes down to the expectations you set from the beginning. In this Agent/Broker Perspective, Miami broker Anthony Askowitz offers hypothetical scenarios and advice on how to deal.

Lack of mentorship

With outdated views and discrimination, it’s not uncommon for women to have to work a little harder to get proper mentorship. Below is a list of what to look for in a mentor, how to get more out of mentorship — both as a mentor and a mentee — and why you should consider mentoring if you’re not already.

Pay it forward! 7 tips for mentoring a future female leader

Empowered women empower women. Here’s how to work with a less experienced woman in real estate and boost her progress in the profession.

‘Reach back as you push forward’: An Inman leadership reader

Inman is a great place to read about leadership and hear from some of the industry’s heavyweights. Here are some words of wisdom from an array of Inman contributors on all aspects of leadership today.

How to mentor the future leaders in your business

It takes a serious commitment of both resources and time to develop an individual into a future leader, but it can be done in less time and more effectively than most executives ever realize. Here are four ways to effectively mentor leaders.

Looking for a mentor? 5 questions to guide you

Picking a mentor to help guide you throughout your career — especially as you’re starting out in real estate — can make a world of a difference. If you’re looking around for the right person, here are a few things to consider.

Need a mentor? 3 ways to find your professional match

Mentoring relationships can play a valuable role in the success of real estate agents navigating the rough seas of real estate. Here are three suggestions for new agents who want to explore meaningful mentoring relationships.

Searching for a mentor? Look for these 11 qualities

Not all agents and brokers are cut out to be mentors. Some are too busy to teach, and others are too “old school” to think outside of the box. When mentally vetting candidates, here are some must-have characteristics a mentor should possess.

Limited leadership roles 

Margaret Thatcher once famously said, “”If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” That might just be the ticket. Many women we spoke to reported creating opportunities for themselves (and others). Here are a few pointers for building your business with intention, growing into a leadership role, and advice from women at the top.

Charting her course: How real estate empowers women

Real estate is a great industry for women to work in regardless of their age, and the best opportunities are for salespeople, says broker Teresa Boardman.

From new agent to serial entrepreneur: How to build to scale

By definition, an entrepreneur organizes and operates a business (or several), takes on greater than normal financial risks to do so, and is willing to risk loss to make money. Real estate agents can be solopreneurs, intrapreneurs or entrepreneurs — the choice is yours. But if you choose to become an entrepreneur, here’s what you need to know.

In case you were still in doubt, here’s proof women make great leaders

It may go without saying that women are as capable and worthy as their male counterparts, but let’s say it anyway. Women bring a host of exceptional qualities to the table, though they sometimes go unacknowledged. Here are some stats worth noting.

How to get involved in the real estate industry

Volunteering for committee membership takes time. Attending meetings takes time. Simply applying takes time. It’s all time well spent, according to Jay Thompson.

Challenges, pitfalls and sage advice: Starting your own brokerage

Despite their prominent role in the industry, many women struggle to step into leadership positions as brokers and brokerage owners. Based on extensive research and anecdotal evidence, here are some of the challenges women face and how to overcome them.

So you want to be a leader? Check out these 5 avenues

Ready to lead? We’ve got a variety of ways for you to channel your ambition and take on a leadership role, whether it’s in the office or the industry at large.

5 tough facts you need to know before you start a team

Starting their own team is a natural leadership step for many high-performing agents. Adam Hergenrother shares some of the hard realities potential team leaders need to understand before they begin.

Thinking of starting a brokerage? 3 to-dos before you make a hire

Before you hire your first admin or lay the groundwork for your first buyer’s agent, indie broker Erica Ramus has a list of the nuts and bolts items you need to check off your to-do list.

Breaking the glass ceiling: Women leaders on the ups-and-downs

Real estate leaders Lasha Raddatz, Marion Weiler, Jackie Soto and Kim Luckie share how they’re chipping away at the glass ceiling in real estate, despite challenges with sexism, racism and dated expectations.

What’s her secret? 32 tips from top leaders

At the beginning of 2022, 11 of real estate’s top female leaders shared their success strategies for agents for this year with Bernice Ross in this two-part series. In Part 1, the experts agree, it starts with you — your self-care and authenticity, your focus on what matters most to your clients and your service to your community. In Part 2, experts outline important trends you need to know — plus how to use several different tech tools to maximize your success.

Personal safety

Personal safety just is a concern for women. The online harassment can turn to real-life crime before you realize you’re in danger. However, in real estate, whether you’re a man or a woman, you’re meeting strangers all the time, and your safety is paramount.

61 safety tips every real estate agent should read

As a real estate agent, it’s imperative that you keep safety in the forefront of your mind. Here are 61 safety tips I’ve compiled over the years. Some will seem stunningly obvious; others may be new to you. Even if you’ve heard everything repeated endlessly, please take the time to read through it.

Stay up to date on all industry safety news and tips here.

Email Dani Vanderboegh

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