Women REALTORS® Then and Now: A Timeline of Progress

Mainstreet HQ, Downers Grove - In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re bringing you a historical examination of the history of women REALTORS®. Part two of this month’s blog duo features a “timeline snapshot,” spanning from the 1700’s to 2024. Mainstreet celebrates the contributions women have made and recognizes the achievements of women in the real estate industry.

The real estate industry and its connected markets are globally valued at ~$4.7 trillion, making it one of the largest markets on earth. Women are vital in real estate, dating back as early as the 1700’s. Initially, the role for women in real estate was confined to administrative positions. However, by the late 1800’s the paradigm shift had begun. Women were brokering real estate deals and representing clients.

Fast forward the timeline for real estate in America to the start of the 19th century. NAR started its first Association in 1908 and the membership was entirely male, despite the more than 3,000 nationwide women brokers. Soon thereafter in 1910 Corrine Simpson became the first NAR female broker, based in Seattle, Washington.

The disparity between male and female was not policy related. NAR has always allowed women in the Association.

Ultimately, these limitations prompted the establishment of the Women’s Council of REALTORS® in 1938.

However, all the way up until the 1950’s many local associations did restrict membership to only men. In addition to joining an association, women were unallowed to be real estate board members. By 1978 NAR’s membership had flipped on its axis; more than half of its members were women.

Jump ahead to the 2020’s. NAR now reports that in 2023 67% of all REALTORS® are women, which translates to roughly 2/3 of all REALTOR® transaction involving female representation. However, despite being most of the population in the real estate industry women are seldom promoted to executive or C-Suite positions. Urban Land Institutes survey of women in leadership roles reports only 14% of all CEOs in real estate are women.

Knowing the history of women in real estate and as REALTORS® is important to help shape the future. Mainstreet is the rock that breaks the wave when it comes to not appointing women to executives. 75% of the Mainstreet Executive Committee is represented by women, with another 50% of the Board of Directors seats held by women members.

Mainstreet boasts a robust group of committees for various initiatives; the total percentage of female volunteer’s rests at a strong 67%.

Connie Vavra, Mainstreet President-Elect, interviewed with Mainstreet about her journey in real estate. Click here to read her thoughts about the future of real estate.