I have been investing in real estate since 2002, but it wasn’t until earlier this year in 2019 that I attended my first major real estate conference. It as an amazing experience, yet I was completely floored by how few women attended the event. At first, I was thankful for the short bathroom lines. But as I scanned the room, it dawned on me just how under-represented women were in real estate.
Or, so I thought….
Fast-forward a few months, I attended a popular women-focused real estate conference in Los Angeles, Calif., and I was floored! There were over 150 experienced, passionate female real estate investors in one room. It was truly a sight to behold! Which led me to ask the question: Why was there such a difference?
Sure, you can chalk a large part of the difference to marketing, however, I think that is only part of the story. Thinking about my own experience as a female investor in such a male-dominated industry, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think there are a number of reasons why women are so under-represented in the real estate investment industry, which I will share below. But I hope we as a community can continue to work on how we can bring more females into the fold and succeed together.
4 Reasons Women are Under-Represented as Real Estate Investors
Women tend to be less confident in their investing knowledge and skills. This doesn’t mean women actually are less knowledgeable or less skilled. However, I can confidently say after coaching many women and co-founding a local women’s real estate investing meetup, the perceived lack of confidence is a very common theme.
The quandary is that information (perhaps too much information) is everywhere. And women can freeze up when it’s time to take action. They doubt themselves and question what steps to take next. It can be scary to go out on that skinny branch alone without the reassurance that you are making the right decisions.
Women tend to struggle with finding time to learn about investing. The time struggle is real for men or women, However, I know women in my generation were raised with the narrative of getting a good job, get married, buy a house, and raise a family. From a young age, I was taught to put family duties first before myself—making sure that the house was clean, the kitchen spotless, meals cooked, laundry clean, etc. And if you’re a mom—watch out!
While attending a Tony Robbins course, one coach said that women struggle to get ahead in their business because of their “perceived need to be supermom and the inability to step over the mess on the floor at home and go get the important work sh$t done.” This was an “a-ha!” moment for me. I felt like someone had just given me permission to not do the laundry anymore! (But that would be missing the entire point.)
The point is, we are beginning to flip the narrative that family work is only about the house and kids. That this work also includes our investing—making the financial health of your family a priority. (And today, I’m afforded some grace if the laundry isn’t done.)
3. Lack of a Support Network
Women are drawn to community. Going back to the stark difference in the two conferences I mentioned earlier, the first conference had a nearly all-male speaker line up and touted business workshops and networking meetings for your next deal.
While the second conference had mostly female speakers talking about succeeding together through community, support, and personal growth. One conference felt more like a “hunt” for your next deal or investor. The other felt more like a community to share resources in a more social group setting. Women crave a support network, and this industry doesn’t always feel supportive to women.
4. Social Biases
Women are stepping into their power (publicly). I want to also acknowledge the elephant in the room: Even in today’s age of cultural awareness a man is seen as a smart businessman if he has massive success. If a woman has massive success in business, some find it unacceptable for her to have such drive and ambition. I have had my value as an investor questioned just because I was a woman. One investor told me a couple of months ago I couldn’t invest until they spoke to my husband so he could “explain the numbers to me”… I hung up).
I’m merely want to bring awareness that the gender gap still exists—and very much so in the real estate world. It’s only recently acceptable for women to publicly crush it (thank you, Sheryl Sandberg!), as well as claim their power and own their self-worth while not being judged for it. Thank you, BiggerPockets, for curating a safe and uplifting community for women!
So, back to the question I left off with at the beginning of this article…
How Can We Recruit More Women Real Estate Investors?
Fueled by ambition, the need to create financial stability for themselves and their families, save for retirement or just build wealth, women are shaping the real estate investing landscape. While women currently only make up 30 percent of the real estate investor base, women are stepping into diverse investments, and bring the power of partnerships and community to grow their portfolios. It’s a change that is welcomed and here to stay! When a woman joins our community here, how can we support her?
I think the evidence (although anecdotal) on how to develop better content and resources and offer support to women investors is clear.
- Create educational content that is confidence building, action-oriented, and time-leveraged to overcome the two largest obstacles anyone has to investing and speed up the path to success.
- Continue to empower women to put themselves, and their family, financial health first.
- Cultivate an emotionally supportive community that is inspiring and collaborative.
Remember, it’s not about the destination, rather the journey we are all in together.
Why do you think women are unrepresented in the real estate industry, and how would encourage more women to invest?
Please share with a comment below!