By: Brian Tresidder, 2023 RASM President and Strategic Growth & Sales Manager at William Raveis Real Estate

Today, more than 66% of REALTORS® are women. At the REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee (RASM), female REALTORS® make up 58.4% of the membership and, within that, 38% are active brokers.

For Women’s History Month, we celebrate the history and accomplishments of women leaders and innovators within the real estate industry. Nationwide, female agents dominate the residential real estate market. But that wasn’t always the case.

Women have been part of the real estate industry since its beginning in the late 1700s. But in the early days, they mostly performed administrative duties. By the late 1800s, women slowly started to move into the roles of brokers and agents.

When the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) was first established in 1908, the membership was entirely male, despite 3,000 women working as brokers nationally. While NAR didn’t explicitly prohibit women from joining the organization, many local associations did.

The first female member didn’t join NAR until 1910, and women remained a minority in the organization for the first few decades. Unfortunately, the Great Depression halted women’s progress in the industry for a decade. In the 1930s, NAR witnessed a growth of women working in real estate and an increased participation of women at national conventions, as women were becoming aware of their importance to the industry. During the NAR Convention in 1938, a women’s division was formed by 37 ambitious women who represented nine states, thus forming the first Women’s Council of REALTORS®.

As women in the workplace gained more political influence through the women’s liberation movement, they gained more opportunities in real estate. In 1973, NAR opened up membership from exclusively brokers to sales agents, many of whom were women. By 1978, women officially surpassed men as a percentage of total membership. And in 1996, four years after NAR’s first female president, women represented the majority of broker licensees for the first time.

Many women, and men, have been attracted to residential real estate for the flexible schedule that it provides for families alongside high earning potential. However, there are still fewer women represented in leadership and executive roles within the industry. NAR has seen a total of seven female presidents. In our local history, the Manatee Association and Sarasota Association combined has seen a total of 29 female presidents at the helm of the organization.

As the 2023 president of RASM, it is my goal to foster inclusivity through the diversity of our 9,000 members, ensuring that our association and our community is viewed as a “home for all.” Earlier in this Women’s History Month, RASM recognized this goal by establishing a formal partnership with both the Women’s Council of REALTORS® Sarasota and the Women’s Council of REALTORS® Manatee County through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with each organization. This partnership was designed to create more opportunity for all REALTORS® in our two-county region. It is our hope that, together, we can foster more representation from the leaders of these councils within the larger real estate community.

Women have come a long way in the real estate industry. In our community, we have many local brokers and company owners who are proving their worth as leaders of the industry in which they are the majority. Whether male or female, we all deserve the same opportunities, appreciation, and respect in our industries and within our daily lives.

This article was originally published in the Herald-Tribune.