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Commercial Real Estate Lags Behind in Female Representation
March 7, 2022

Commercial Real Estate Lags Behind in Female Representation

by The CE Shop Team

Women Remain Underrepresented in Commercial Real Estate

Real estate is often touted as an industry that offers women the opportunity to thrive and find success on their own terms. But while women now make up well over half of real estate agents, they remain significantly underrepresented in commercial real estate.

This Women’s History Month, we’re taking a closer look at what it’s like to be a woman in commercial real estate — and why more women aren’t flocking to the field. 

Equity in Commercial Real Estate Is ‘an Uphill Climb’

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) was founded in 1908 with no female members, but in the more than a century since, real estate has become an increasingly female-dominated industry.

In 2020, 65% of NAR’s members were female, up from 64% the year before, according to its annual Member Profile. The typical REALTOR® was a 54-year-old white woman who had attended college and was a homeowner.

In commercial real estate, the share of agents who are female is much lower. NAR’s 2018 Commercial Member Profile found that only 30% of commercial REALTORS® were female. 

A 2020 report from CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Network dug deeper into the progress that women have made in commercial real estate — and the work that still needs to be done.

Women made up 36.7% of people working in the commercial real estate industry, including asset management professionals, Brokers, developers, and finance professionals — a number that “has not changed much over the last 15 years,” said the report, 2020 CREW Network Benchmark Study: Gender and Diversity in Commercial Real Estate.

Women in commercial real estate also earned significantly less than men, the report says. On average, men had a fixed base salary of $112,290, while women earned $100,802. 


“The 10.2% salary gap means that, on average, women make 90 cents for every dollar that men earn in fixed salaries,” the report says. “For women of color, the salary gap is wider. Black women make 85 cents, Asian women make 86 cents, and Hispanic/Latinx women make 80 cents for every dollar that men earn.”

When it came to commissions and bonuses, the gap continued to grow. On average, women made 55.9% less than men from commissions and bonuses, the report says. Women also hold only 9% of C-suite positions in commercial real estate.

The report found some signs of progress, such as the fact that there’s been “a 5.4% increase in women respondents 39 years old and younger, indicating a growing generation of young and emerging women professionals in the industry.” But overall, it showed that there’s a long way to go.

“While the commercial real estate sector has experienced dramatic swings over the past 15 years — primarily as a result of a recession and other economic changes — the presence and status of women has remained mostly stable, with only slight progress for women,” the report concludes.

“Approximately 60% of study respondents reported that their workplace is ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ diverse, and non-white respondents made up only 13% of our sample, indicating a lack of diversity in the industry. Equity for women and BIPOC is still an uphill climb individually and as an industry.”


Resources for Further Reading

CREW Network said the report is “a wakeup call” and “a call to action for the commercial real estate industry.”

If you’re a woman who’s interested in working in the commercial real estate industry, don’t get discouraged. With hard work and determination, we’re confident that you can find success in commercial real estate. 

To learn more, check out our blog, How to Become a Commercial Real Estate Agent. It walks you through exactly how to become a commercial real estate agent, from getting your license to defining your career path. If you’re just dipping your toes into the industry as a whole, check out our video below, which outlines the differences between residential and commercial real estate:


If you enjoy listening to podcasts, you should also check out The CE Shop’s podcast, Shop Talk, which has episodes on both women in real estate and commercial real estate.

Together, we can make the industry a welcoming place for all, regardless of gender!

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