Publications

- April 1, 2019: Vol. 31, Number 4

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Opportunities and outcomes: Women in the real estate investment industry

by Loretta Clodfelter

How should we appraise the evolving role of women in the commercial real estate industry? Gender equity can be considered from two different angles: equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. In some ways, equality of outcome is easier to measure (if not change): We can count up the number of women in senior roles, and assign a score; we can impose quotas or create affirmative-action programs to increase those numbers; and we can measure the success or failure of our efforts based on the share of women in the industry.

But equality of outcome can be flattening, and while it may be initially useful in pushing change (see California’s new law requiring publicly traded companies headquartered in the state to have at least one woman on their board of directors), it also doesn’t take into account individual choice. The real estate industry is unlikely to ever reach a 50-50 gender parity, certainly not as long as women’s broader labor-force participation rate remains lo

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