What was the inspiration behind WomanUP!? What motivated you to become involved in the women’s movement?
I’ve actually always been a feminist. My mom is a single mom—my dad has always been around—but my mom was a really strong independent woman and she’s my role model. I came to work for the California Association of Realtors® (CAR) and had another amazing role model in Leslie Appleton-Young. I’ve always been attracted to follow strong women, and read books and articles about the women’s movement and the gender gap.
In my role at CAR, I oversee the industry and broker relations, and part of that is interacting and building relationships with the brokerage community and meeting with them on a regular basis. As I met with CEOs and some of the largest brokerage firms in California, I always wanted a balanced room. What I found was that I was hard-pressed to find that balance because the people who led the larger brokerage firms tended to be male.
I’d been noticing this, and even if it wasn’t a large firm, I would make sure women sat at the table. I thought to myself, “This is crazy. We should do something about this.” I couldn’t really drive it home until I got a call from Gretchen Pearson; she was going to speak at a women’s event and said, “I want to know data. Do you have any data on women leaders?” We really didn’t at that point. I had my own personal experience with not finding those women on the rosters, so then we dug into the data. I had my staff look at the largest brokerage firms in California and Google which leaderswere men and which were women. We found that 36 percent of firms were either run by women or had women at the C-level or in management at the top California brokerage firms with over 100 agents. We analyzed a list of approximately 200 of these firms.