Career Woman

How being a woman can be a competitive advantage in a male dominated industry


As women working in male dominated industries, we can often find ourselves faced with challenges that most men never have to think twice about. But could our gender actually be an advantage over our male counterparts?

In industries such as real estate, there is simply no denying that certain attitudes and expectations are strongly geared in favour of our male colleagues. Fromboys’ club mentalities to the gender-based pay disparity, the real estate industry is far from a level playing field, and as a woman, it can feel as though you need to work twice as hard to get half as far.

When I stepped into my current role, as Chief Operating Officer of Stockdale & Leggo I was quite new to the industry. Although I had successfully established my own recruitment, consulting and training business, I wanted to strengthen my level of understanding of the industry and would occasionally attend the listing presentation of some of our franchisees, under the facade of being another agent.

On a number of occasions, it was assumed that I was the agent’s assistant – there to take notes and provide administrative support. While I understood that these were innocent mistakes, it was quite surprising to see that my seniority was not even considered, and I had to wonder whether this would have happened if these agents had been women rather than men.

I realise that scenarios like these are commonplace and that as women there are many issues we must overcome. It certainly isn’t easy, but do I think these struggles hinder our ability to perform? Not necessarily. In fact, I believe when harnessed correctly our differences can help us tap into a highly effective competitive advantage when workingin a male centric industry. Here are my reasons why.

Stand out from the pack

In recent years the real estate industry has become increasingly crowded, with a vast number of new agencies popping up on every corner. In such a heavily saturated market, standing out is becoming more and more difficult, but being a woman in a male dominated environment offers you an effortless point of differenceto your competitors – so rather than trying to get around it, why not work with it? Remember, being forgettable won’t do your business any favours, and if you should happen to be the only female agent at the table you’re sure to be remembered.

Higher emotional intelligence

By nature, women are known to be more sensitive and have a higher emotional intelligence than their male counterparts. Women are believed to be more adept at offering empathy and have a greater ability to tune in to the emotions of others. When it comes to business, I believe these qualities are highly undervalued, particularly in the real estate industry. For many people, buying property isn’t simply a game of dollars and cents – it’s about homes, families and futures. Embracing your sensitivity will help you to build your connection with customers and help to market your services in a way that exceeds expectations and ensures repeat business.

Stay motivated to succeed

I’m a firm believer that the hardships we endure play a big part in making us who we are. As we’ve seen time and time again throughout history, those who have had to work harder will usually achieve far more than those who have had the luxury of complacency. The same is true in our careers, and although being met with colleagues who doubt your capabilities can be crushing, it can actually serve as the best incentive to stay motivated. Proving the naysayers wrong is a fantastic feeling, and one way or another, hard work will always be rewarded.

We rise by lifting others

The team around you can make an enormous difference your ability to succeed, and without the right support,real estate can be lonely work. However,I truly believe that our differences make us stronger, andwhen you’re part of a team that values a variety of strengths and skill sets the sky is your limit. I founded the Empowered Women in Real Estate movement as a way of inspiring ambitious women in the industry to share their success and build lasting connections with their fellow female real estate professionals. We rise by lifting others, and when we work together as one unified group, we all get the best of both worlds.

About Anna Thomas

Anna Thomas is the Chief Operating Officer of major Australian real estate network, Stockdale & Leggo. She was recognised as a Telstra Business Women’s Awards Finalist in the Corporate and Private Award in 2016, a 2017 Finalist in the Real Estate Business Awards ‘Industry Thought Leader of the Year’ Award and a Bronze Stevie winner in the Woman of the Year category in the 2017 International Business Awards. She is also the Founder and Brand Ambassador of the ‘Empowered Women in Real Estate’ initiative, a community empowering women to believe in themselves and step forward into leadership roles. Twitter:

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