Andrea Carpenter was moderating a panel at a real estate conference in Prague in the fall of 2016 when she got fed up. She was one of only three woman on a jam-packed program, and found herself wondering: why aren’t more women on stage?
With a little research, she discovered that only 14% all speakers at real estate events across Europe that year were women. In other words, 230 out of about 1,660 speaking opportunities were filled by women.
“We didn’t think these figures truly showcased the expertise of female professionals in real estate, or reflected the diversity of the industry,” Carpenter says. “I realized we had to do something.”
In June 2017, she and co-director Viktorija Grubesic established the non-profit Women Talk Real Estate to get more women in the sector on stage as speakers, moderators, and panelists, and quoted in the media.
Women Talk Real Estate is taking a practical approach by:
1) Making women experts easier to find. They created an online database to connect conference organizers and the media with female real estate experts. So far, 322 women have registered, and more than 70 invitations to speak and be interviewed have been extended through the database.
2) Encouraging more women to speak. They began training women to build a successful stage and media presence. Women Talk Real Estate offers a half-day course with strategies and tips on delivering key messages, handling questions, managing on-stage dynamics, and other aspects of being a speaker.
“Visibility matters,” says Carpenter, a former head of marketing and communications at CBRE Global Investors. “If we see more women on stage and in the media, it improves their business opportunities. And it provides roles models, which encourages more women to join the industry.”
For other groups with databases of female experts, check out The Brussels Binder – a non-profit crowd-funding campaign to create more gender diversity in European public policy debates; Informed Opinions – a Canadian organization working to achieve gender balance in public discourse; and WomenPresent – an online platform that promotes more women to be keynote speakers, moderators, and panelists.
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