Urban Land Institute Works To Bridge Gender Divide


Panel of Real Estate Industry Experts Present at ‘Women in the Workplace: Growing in Every Generation’


In keeping with its practice of leadership and forward thinking innovation, the Urban Land Institute Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) hosted the “Women in the Workplace: Growing in Every Generation,” where a five-member panel of distinguished women professionals, representing each generation spoke on their experience in the mostly male-dominated industry of real estate and building industry. The event, meant to raise awareness about the gender divide between men and women in real estate and building industry, took place on April 26 at Gensler in Newport Beach.

According to a survey by the Urban Land Institute (ULI), women make up 25 percent of ULI’s membership, but only account for 14 percent of the industries CEO’s. Among survey respondents, 93 percent of those female CEOs oversee small firms with fewer than 100 employees.

“This [was] a great opportunity to hear from a diverse set of voices of every generation – Millennial and beyond – about their experiences in the real estate industry and how a new generation of women can leverage their own skills and experience into a career of inspiration and innovation,” said panelist and keynote speaker Nina Gruen, Executive Vice President, Principal Sociologist. She is also the author of “Believe It or Not: The Challenges Facing One Professional Woman a Half Century Ago,” which was provided to attendees. Gruen was joined by such industry experts as: Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs, President & CFO, Lifescapes International; Dr. Soraya Coley, President CalPoly Pomona; Anne Bretana, Senior Associate Gensler; Nairi Siddiqi, Associate, Stuart Kane LLP; and Noelle Steele, Project Planner, Michael Baker International.

Speaking on her own experience as a Generation X-er (1965-1979), Anne Bretana shares: “Since I graduated college, the U.S. has been through three major economic downturns, so many Gen Xers have experienced tremendous uncertainty in their professional lives.  As we came out of each downturn, I realized more and more of my design peers and colleagues were leaving the architecture industry. Through these challenging periods, I learned that perseverance and flexibility were my keys to success.”

All of the panelists took questions and offered tips for advancing women in the field for a rewarding career and chance to shape the future of real estate innovation.

According to the Orange County Business Council, Orange County workplace is comprised of 21 percent Millennials; the current median age is 38-years- old, which is a substantial increase over the median age of 33 in 2000. The OC also leads the region, state and nation in job creation, (+39,000, 4.4 percent unemployment).

“Ultimately, we want to see more women in leadership roles in the industry. And that can happen, especially through networking events such as these, where we educate and support each other’s efforts to expand the horizons of women in the real estate workplace,” said Christine Obnial, a Millennial and Women’s Leadership Initiative Executive Committee member. The Urban Land Institute’s Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) was established to promote the advancement of women, throughout their careers, as leaders within the real estate industry. The goal was to increase the number of women who serve in leadership positions; increase the visibility of women leaders and increase the number of women who are active and support the development of young women members as leaders in ULI and in their professions.

To learn more about Urban Land Institute Orange County/Inland Empire events and tickets,
email orangecounty@uli.org  or visit www.orangecounty.uli.org.

And be sure not to miss the upcoming Summer Reception:

ULI Summer Reception – Bourbon & BBQ Summer Tasting Event – Thursday, August 24th from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm at ULI Office @ The Vine Patio – 5151 California Ave., Irvine

ULI invites you to join us for a Bourbon tasting and demonstration by Hi-Times Wine Cellars, delicious barbeque and cocktails, live music, and networking as we celebrate summer, our change in leadership and our new offices! We are pleased to announce that John R. Williams, President and CIO, Avanath Capital Management, is the NEW Incoming Chair of the Orange County/Inland Empire District Council! John is a longtime member of the and succeeds Randal W. Jackson, President, PlaceWorks who is stepping down after a successful three-year term as District Council Chair. ULI members, land use and real estate professionals, and their spouses or guests are ALL invited to join the festivities!

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