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The Real Estate world is filled with successful woman, but is the industry above the gender divide?

By Rita Steele

I am truly blessed to work surrounded by a team of powerhouse women. While my team and I could of course tell countless personal stories about experiences wherein we were subjected to gross gender discrimination, I have generally operated under the presumption that the real estate industry as a whole is much more gender neutral than other industries. This is the not the case.

Nationwide, women brokers are strongly represented in the residential real estate market (over 50% of all residential realtors are female), but women have yet to make a major entrance into the more lucrative commercial market.

While the commercial broker wage gap has decreased over the years, in 2015, the median total annual compensation in commercial real estate, including bonuses and profit-sharing, was $150,000 for men and $115,000 for women. A wage gap of nearly 25%.

Studies indicate that woman ask for a raise increase 30% less often than men do, and that they often face much more push back than men to receive the increase. The commercial real estate industry is not immune to this disparity. The still very present grievance that it’s just one big “old boys’ club” survives in the commercial real estate industry: “A palpable sense of disrespect, fear and frustration persists as women continue to grapple with wage disparity, sexism, upward mobility and sexual harassment.” (Catie Dixon, BISNOW).

For the most part, sexism, like other all other forms of discrimination that women and minorities deal with on a regular basis, is more subtle in Rhode Island these days. Clients may simply feel more comfortable with a white male commercial broker than a female or a minority; and they may not be able to fully articulate why.

We are proud that the women (and the men!) at SRCI are all passionate Change Agents in their own right. Status quo norms and ‘old-boys’ club negotiations are not how we do business. Our work reflects our values, always.

So while the complete eradication of passive discriminatory behavior in this industry won’t be cured overnight – we can continue to lead by example. Therefore we continue share our insights and lead by example to increase awareness toward rising social equalities, both in our industry and community.

This is the first of a series of articles that will delve further into women’s equality in the workplace. We will be delving into the personal stories of our own experiences in the real estate world as women and will explore how the dynamics of gender have created obstacles, setbacks, and successes in our careers. To track the series, follow our blog at

Statistics referenced sourced from the National Association of Realtors Research, the Urban Land Institute, BISNOW, and the Commercial Real Estate Women Network.


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