The Women’s Council of REALTORS® Has a Rich Wisconsin History
Did you know that one of the strongest women’s groups in the real estate industry was founded right here in Wisconsin? This Women’s History Month, we’re honoring the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, the women’s professional organization that paved the way for all female agents today. Here’s how the council broke barriers and made history in the male-dominated days of the early real estate industry.
History of Women in Real Estate
While women now make up the majority of residential real estate agents nationwide, the industry has a long history of exclusion. It’s believed that women were working in real estate as early as the 1700s, although they were likely limited to administrative duties at the time. In the late 1800s, however, women finally stepped into agent and broker roles.
Women in early real estate were often either the widows or daughters of men in the industry, half of a mother-son or husband-wife real estate team, or newly working professionals pushed to sell due to financial necessity. These pioneering women were largely on their own as networks and groups for women in real estate had not yet been established. In fact, it wasn’t until 1908 that the National Association of REALTORS®, America’s largest trade association to date, was formed.
National Association of REALTORS® Is Founded
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) was established in 1908 "to unite the real estate men of America for the purpose of effectively exerting a combined influence upon matters affecting real estate interests." At the time of its founding, NAR membership was 100% male. Despite this fact and the word choice in its statement of purpose, there were never gender or racial requirements for membership, and women began joining NAR shortly after its inception.
Women’s Council of REALTORS® Is Founded
While the national association welcomed women, most regulatory decisions were made by local chapters, which were often less eager to include input from women in the industry nearly 30 years after NAR’s inception. To combat this resistance, NAR formed a women’s division at the 1938 annual convention in Milwaukee. Thirty-seven pioneering women representing nine different states formed the Women’s Council of REALTORS® (WCR).
WCR championed the many benefits of a real estate career to women across the nation, including salaries equal to men’s, flexible work schedules promoting both family and career advancement, a support system of like-minded women, networking opportunities, referrals, increased confidence, professional recognition, and, of course, courage. No doubt these pioneering women and the positive impact of WCR has helped bolster female agents and their current presence in the industry. As one of the top 10 states for women’s equality, is it any wonder this historic organization has roots in Wisconsin?
Today, with 80 years of rich history and a legacy of superior business leadership and political action education, the council is one of the strongest women’s groups in the real estate industry. There are currently 10,000 members across the nation with local chapters in nearly 40 states. The benefits of membership include leadership conferences, national conferences, business leadership education, and training on presentation skills, running a business, negotiation skills, along with networking and referrals.
The Wisconsin Women’s Council of REALTORS® is the Badger State’s local chapter, which offers an array of even more specific groups in certain markets, from Milwaukee to Madison. Your local group could open doors to networking, leadership, and other growth opportunities. If you’d like to join the Council, start with their “Find a Network” tool.
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