Three Reasons (#3. “The Larry Summers Factor”)

[Editor’s Note:  seeChanging Realtor Demographics” for more on this subject.]

Scan the headlines, and it’s apparent that women are making steady inroads in corporate boardrooms, academe, and formerly “male” professions like law and accounting.

So, where are more men showing up?

In real estate.

It’s only an anecdotal observation, but here goes:  in the last 5 years, my perception is that real estate has gone from something like 60:40 female-to-male to 55:45 — and is headed for 50:50.

More Porous Glass Ceiling

Assuming I’m right, what accounts for that shift?

I see three factors at play.

One.  More porous glass ceiling.  Once upon at time, women’s job choices were pretty much limited to teaching, nursing, “library sciences” — and real estate.

Today, very few occupations remain off limits for women.

With more women becoming CFO’s and assistant professors — fewer are becoming Realtors.

Conversely, an entire cohort of older, mostly female Realtors is beginning to exit the field and retire, and their ranks are not being replaced by a commensurate number of women entering the profession.

Two. Rough economy. 

The flip side of more women lawyers and accountants is more competition for male lawyers and accountants.  

In fact, it’s worse than that (at least for the men), because the recession and ongoing corporate downsizing are eliminating many jobs in formerly “male-dominated” fields.

Consequently, some of the men who formerly would have found a niche somewhere in Corporate America  . . . have to look elsewhere.

Three.  Accelerating Technology, or, “The Larry Summers Factor.”

Former Harvard University President (and White House economics advisor) Larry Summers got fired for saying so, but I think it’s indisputable that men and women have different — not better or worse — but different aptitudes. 

How else do you explain 11 year-old boys’ capacity to play wii, Xbox, etc. virtually 24/7, while 11 year-old girls . . .  talk to each other?

For better or worse, the practice of modern real estate is becoming more technology (dare I say “gadget”) driven, and that trend does seem to favor boys (er, men).   

On the other hand, if what really counts is who can do more text-messaging, the true Realtor of the future is likely  . . . a teenage girl.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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