As Women’s History month comes to a close, there’s no better time than now to look back over the years and see how far women have come in this industry. The real estate industry would not be the same without the many strong and fearless women we all know and work alongside. But like many other industries, women had to overcome numerous obstacles to make their way on the scene.
Women have always been a part of real estate. Beginning in the late 1700s, women were mostly performing administration duties but by the 1800s many moved into broker and agent roles. A major roadblock women overcame stems from the National Association of Realtors. This organization was founded in 1908 and was only comprised of men despite over 3,000 women working as brokers at the time. This changed in 1910 thanks to Corrine Simpson, a broker from Seattle, who became the first woman to join NAR.
Although Corrine helped break a major barrier by joining NAR, numerous other local Associations did not allow women to join. Most real estate boards did not drop their gender discriminatory laws until the 1950s. Because of this, in 1938 the Women’s Council of Realtors was established.
The Great Depression posed another setback as about two-thirds of women in real estate had to leave the industry. With houses not selling between 1930-1940, many women sought out different jobs and took care of their families. However, after World War II women began returning to the industry. These efforts were a combination of women proving to achieve success during the war as well as the VA-loans being established in the 1940s.
Another breakthrough occurred in 1973 when NAR allowed real estate agents to join, opening the pool of more women to become members. Over 300,000 women were working as real estate agents by 1980. As of May 2018, according to NAR, 63% of realtors are women.
There are so many stories untold and so much work that women have done in this industry that has still gone unnoticed. We thank the fearless women who helped pave the way for those of us here now and acknowledge the incredible women who we work alongside today. Although women’s history is celebrated during the month of March, we are making history every day.