Compass California honors International Women’s Day

Real estate: career runway for women

Few fields today offer more avenues for advancement than residential real estate. According to NAR, a full 63 percent of Realtors® are women. (When the organization was founded in 1908,  membership was all-male – a situation that changed little until the ‘50s.) In honor of Women’s History Month, here’s a look at how women’s roles in real estate continue to grow.

Megan Whalen made a name for herself in Santa Monica’s Sunset Park neighborhood and has since become one of the Westside’s top agents, currently operating as MW Partners. She has been recognized as one of America’s Best Real Estate Agents by Real Trends in 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014.

Real estate offers women many perks that other fields don’t, including control over their own schedules and the ability to work from home. Now, in today’s fast-paced, competitive marketplace, leaders are quickly learning how critical having a wider range of perspectives is to success.



Many investors are demanding more diversity, too. As the industry places growing importance on women’s advancement, their careers are starting to gain momentum and include more prominent roles.

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin is one industry leader who’s never needed to be sold on the importance of women in his field. He grew up with a real estate agent mom, and watched as she searched for a brokerage firm that would give her the support she needed. “I’m proud that at Compass, we’re building the technology, marketing and community to allow my mom and people like her to be successful,” he says.

Lisa Kirshner
Inspired by the family trade, Lisa Kirshner learned all areas of the business, from commercial to residential to investments and syndication. With nearly 30 years of experience and an impressive personal network, Lisa leads her team in masterfully connecting discerning clients with Southern California’s greatest homes.

The company’s California executive team reflects his viewpoint, with COO Brent Thomson, VP of Marketing Jessica Grimes, Chief Economist & VP of Business Intelligence Selma Hepp, Southern California VP of Business Development Leah Sternberg and VP of Operations Chatty Arrieta.

With over 28 years of experience in real estate, Nina Hatvany has represented clients in well over $2 billion dollars in sales transactions. From 2008 to 2015, Nina has been ranked the top individual agent in the City of San Francisco, and has been recognized in the Wall Street Journal as one of the top 35 sales agents by volume nationwide. Prior to real estate, Nina was a Professor at the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University and later the Graduate School of Business at Berkeley, California. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford.

But Compass is still an exception. In a 2015 survey of women in leadership by the Urban Land Institute, only 12 percent of participants held president, CEO, executive director or similar titles – and of that group, only 7 percent led companies with more than 100 employees.

Carey Haynes’ 30 years of experience and guidance have played an integral role in bringing tech real estate company Compass and its forward-thinking brokerage model to the foothills of the San Gabriels. Haynes is consistently ranked amongst the highest-producing agents in the La Cañada vicinity and the top 1 percent of real estate agents nationwide.

Younger women who are newer to the industry are less likely than mid-career women to feel stifled by a glass ceiling, according to the survey.

“At Compass, we believe in the power of entrepreneurial thinking,” says Brent Thomson, Chief Operating Officer. “We’re looking for people who move fast, dream big, and want to shape the direction of their own careers while reimagining the real estate experience.”

Michele Downing has worked in real estate since 1988. In 2012 she became a Founding Partner of Partners Trust Real Estate Brokerage in Pasadena. She has lived in South Pasadena for more than 32 years.

Regardless of her position on the career ladder, there’s another way every woman in real estate can feel empowered. According to NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, single women now account for 17 percent of homebuyers in the United States, compared with just 7 percent of single men.

Napa Valley agent Hillary Ryan has more than 20 years of experience in residential and commercial real estate. She focuses on helping her clients transact wine country estates, vineyards, wineries, and commercial land development opportunities. Hillary has closed over $6 Billion transactions since the start of her real estate career in 1997.

A female professional is in a strong position to make a difference in these women’s lives by helping them achieve economic independence. And as Gloria Steinem noted, “Nothing changes the gender equation more significantly than women’s economic freedom.”

We are proud of all our Compass women real estate professionals. Here are just a few who were nominated by their office staff.

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