Women in real estate take on wage gap and work-life balance
USC event brings together women who want to shape cities and drive decisions for development
The real estate business may be seen as dominated by men, but its attracting more and more women including nearly 100 women pursing masters and bachelors degrees in real estate development at the USC Price School of Public Policy.
Playing a role in shaping cities is driving more and more women to the real estate profession, said Sonia Savoulian, USC Price associate director for Program in Real Estate, at the schools Women in Real Estate Luncheon. Women want to have a role in driving decisions for real estate development and investment.
Closing the wage gap
Equal pay for men and women something that is not yet a reality in the workplace was one topic addressed by a candid panel at the event.
Ill say one quick thing on raises. Ive found you should always be pushing and asking because its very unnatural as a woman to ask.
Ill say one quick thing on raises, said Jessica Palmquist 10, senior acquisitions analyst at Clarion Partners. Ive found you should always be pushing and asking because its very unnatural as a woman to ask. And I found that all of my male counterparts, exactly my same age, will always ask.
That comment resonated with Jennifer McElyea MRED 06, managing director of Watt Investment Partners.
I was always cautious because I felt, Well, you know, at some point I want kids. Its going to be tough already asking to take time off to go on maternity leave, she said. And gosh, if Im asking for more money, thats just going to make that ask even harder. And I think that was a mistake. Ive now had two children while at this company, and it was really a non-issue. And I was just telling myself that I needed to stay low profile in order to not make it difficult for me to disappear to do what is totally normal to do. So that was a lesson learned, and I try to be much more aggressive now.
The social side of real estate
The panelists also discussed the challenges of navigating the social side of the real estate business. From evening drinks to golf tournaments to ski weekends, many deals get done outside of business hours. Everyone agreed that being one of the guys can require some practice.
Im not a sports person and all the guys would sit around at lunch and talk sports, said Clare De Briere MRED 97, founder of C+C Ventures and chair of the Urban Land Institute, Los Angeles. I started reading the sports section of the L.A. Times cover to cover. There are things from a social standpoint that I think weve all had to do to engage and become one of the pack.
You make these compromises, she added, but you open to the door so you can get to the point where you can say, Hey look, lets talk about this deal. And all of a sudden, it equalizes you a little bit. So practice your golf swing. Go on the fishing trip.
Rose Olson MRED 06, senior vice president of development at Related California, admitted that after she had twins, after-hours networking became nearly impossible.
Evening events are really hard, she said. Breakfast events are almost impossible. So lunches I can do because its during the workday.
McElyea and Lindsay Garcia 11, assistant vice president of U.S. Bank, mentioned that their husbands initially found it strange that they spent so many evenings at meetings with male colleagues.
There are so many after-work events and dinners, Garcia said. And my husband always asks, Where are you going? Who are these people? Especially when I started, it was primarily middle-aged men that Im going to dinner with. Its a weird scenario.
Value of mentorship
In such a male-dominated environment, the panelists noted that the friendship and mentorship of female colleagues are especially valuable.
I am part of a group of real estate women professionals who meet quarterly for lunch, Palmquist said. Its been a huge resource for me just because there arent as many women in the office.
During the question-and-answer session that followed, the audience asked several pointed questions: What do you have to give up in order to have children? How do you connect with women in the real estate industry? How do you deal with explicit exclusion? How do you invite yourself to the all-male happy hour?
The panelists rounded out the conversation by offering advice on achieving work-life balance.
Nothings ever going to be perfect, Olson noted.
Give or take, Garcia said.
You wont always finish everything on a given day, McElyea added.
Worry less, Palmquist recommended.
And I would say, have fun every day, De Briere concluded. Look for ways to make your days joyful.
Watch highlights from Clare De Briere and panel experts.