by Zoe Hughes
April 1, 2016

Why Women Don’t Aspire to the CRE C-Suite

There’s a gender pay gap between men and women within U.S. commercial real estate and just a small percentage of women aspire to join the C-suite compared to men. The latter raises significant questions for trying to close gender inequality in the asset class.

Few people will be surprised to learn there’s a gender pay gap in U.S. commercial real estate, with men making 23 percent more than women.

At the very highest-levels of real estate—those in the C-suite earning more than $1M a year—men are taking home more than double the compensation of women, according to the latest benchmark report from the CREW Network.

Despite advances in closing the compensation gap over the past decade, there’s still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to pay equality. That’s highlighted by CREW in their benchmark report, which brings together 10 years of research tracking compensation and career achievement in real estate by gender.

But what may surprise people in reading this comprehensive report is the findings on women’s career aspirations: Just 28 percent of women in commercial real estate aspire to join the C-suite compared to 40 percent of men.

According to the report, 47 percent of the 1,700 women surveyed choose senior vice president or partner as the position they aspired to be in at the peak of their career, against 39 percent for the 482 men questioned.


So, why are women not aspiring to climb as high up the commercial real estate career ladder as men?

Part of that answer is undoubtedly the pressure of having children midway through building a career. The CREW report reveals that 20 percent of women believe family has adversely affected their career or compensation, compared to just 8 percent of men.

However, the report also found a lack of company mentors and sponsors as a woman’s number one barrier to success, compared to a man’s top reason: a lack of undergraduate degree.

The importance of mentors is an idea supported by MaryAnne Gilmartin, president and CEO of development firm Forest City Ratner Companies, who argued in an interview with PrivcapRE that as women climbed the “pecking order” of commercial real estate, they were becoming role models for the next generation.

“We should focus on the fact that we are the future, as are many of the young people who are looking to be mentored. We are the ones who will pave the way and create the C-suite impact that’s necessary for real change to take place.”

Watch a clip of the interview, also featuring Susan Swanezy, partner of Hodes Weill & Associates and Paula Schaefer, WX New York Women Executives in Real Estate here:

Gender inequality in commercial real estate focuses on the pay gap between men and women, but it’s worth noting that just a small percentage of women aspire to join the C-suite.

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