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Women in Leadership - The NKOTB Experience - Debra Trappen
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Women in Leadership – The NKOTB Experience


Gloria Steinem - WomensDayBefore you start reading this… let me clarify where I am coming from on the topic of Women in Leadership – in general.  For me… it’s not about more women in leadership just for the sake of more “women” being at the top… It’s about a more even representation of the decision makers being part of the process, as well as a tapping into the strengths of both genders to lead organizations and visions forward . Period.

I am reminded of this “gap” again and again… and get fired up during conversations that are sparked by this subject –> where are women leaders in the Real Estate industry and beyond?  So what better day than today, International Women’s Day, to start a conversation!

The last few years I have been an Inman News Ambassador at over a dozen events across the United States… and, from the front row I have a fantastic view of the attendees and the speakers on stage.  This January I attended and covered many of the main sessions during Real Estate Connect in New York City (ICNY).  There is usually chatter in the Twitter stream about there being more men on stage than women…and more women in the audience than men. But this year it was glaringly obvious during the New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) session.

2013-01-17 09.14.03-1-NKOTBAs you can see in the photo to the right, the stage was packed from side to side with hot new vendors and companies, but not one woman in the bunch. Remember, this session is not about executives in the real estate brokerage space, this “panel” represents leaders with new ideas, new technologies, and new resources/services for the real estate industry. I was shocked, but not surprised. Even the event founder, Brad Inman, made a comment about the obvious missing representation. The twitter stream blew up with tweets, some constructive, some snarky – all of them about the same call to action – we need to inspire more women to get involved at this level.

Here is where I usually start to go sideways in the conversation. I don’t want women to be up there, just for the sake of there being equal representation. My concern is, if we know over 70% of the buying decisions are made by women in America1 and just slightly lower than that at 67%  in Canada2, are their consumer desires and needs being met?  How can we create, promote, service, and provide what they need if there is not one woman at the top voicing their opinion or sharing her vision?  Don Draper is fabulous to listen to, but his point of view is NOT mine. :)


My Fave Power Women- #ICNY 2013
L-R: Katie Lance, Suzanne Roy, Me, Kelly Mitchell, Lisa Archer, Laurie Davis, Carol Farrar, and Laura Monroe!

Now, before I get YOU all riled up… I am not saying that real estate is VOID of  female leaders or executives – there are fabulously smart women leading in the real estate space- including these fabulous 11:

  1.  Michele Serro, Founder of Doorsteps
  2. Susana Higuera Murphy, Founder of Alante Real Estate;
  3. Kelly Mitchell of Founder/Voice at Agent Caffeine
  4. Katie Lance, Owner of Katie Lance Consulting
  5. Laura Monroe, Director of Social Media at Inman News
  6. Suzanne Roy, Founder Eventinars
  7. Janie Sederberg, Director of Sales and Brand Experience at Sotheby’s International Realty
  8. Sherry Chris, CEO of BH&G Real Estate
  9. Laurie Davis and Lisa Archer, Founders of @TheGeekyGirls
  10. Nicole Nicolay, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Agent Evolution
  11. and amazing Real Estate Agents leading in their hoods like Carol Farrar in San Diego!

… oh my, the list goes on and on.   Over the years I have met so many amazing women at industry events and after the 2011 Inman RE Connect in San Francisco was inspired to start a Power Women Facebook Group to create a place for all of us to positively engage, elevate and empower each other. If you want to join in the conversation there, direct message me on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/debra11!

So, where do we go from here?
Get Involved.  Infuse Passion.  Inspire Change.


Reshma SaujaniFor instance… Reshma Saujani, a New York City lawyer with political aspirations shared an fantastic Call to Action at ICNY!  She founded Girls Who Code specifically because she wants to see more women break into the traditionally male-dominated fields of technology and engineering! Her organization’s mission it is to get young girls age 13-17 excited and involved in computer sciences.  There is a huge demand for coders yet only 14% of computer science degrees are awarded to “girls”. The reason?  (In general) Young girls do not have a burning desire to hang in front of laptops all day to design and code video games or apps. They seek ways to nurture their communities with projects that help people and make the world a better place… they want to make a difference and technology isn’t on their radar of “options”. Reshma shared her vision of harnessing that powerful, natural motivation combined with kick ass coding skills could effect future products and services.  She spoke about those efforts during her keynote speech at ICNY entitled “Women Hold Up Half the Sky”!   

If you have a favorite organization that engages, elevates and empowers women/girls… PLEASE share it in the comments below and keep this conversations going ALL YEAR LONG!

Happy International Women’s Day!


1GfK MRI, Survey of the American Consumer (2011).
2Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre, Women Want More: How to Capture Your Share of the World’s Largest, Fastest-Growing Market (HarperBusiness, September 2009).

  • Nicole Nicolay
    Posted at 11:55h, 08 March Reply

    Here, here…Ms. D11! Let’s change that misrepresentation and inspire other rockin’ women to as well! I think sometimes “the stage” can be a bit cold, and disheartening to women. It’s not always something offered to us…it’s something we have to fight for. And not every woman feels compelled by her ego to take that stage and talk about herself. However, we should feel compelled to share our successes because they will continue to inspire others’ successes…just as Reshma Saujani.

    And YOU, my friend…are also hitting on another key element of inspiration via “inclusion”. Thanks for lifting other women up. Too many women work against each other via judgement…and that’s just silly. So thank you for embracing other ladies the way you do and for the shout out! Encouragement and inclusion are truly inspirational! You rock!

    • Debra Trappen
      Posted at 13:08h, 08 March Reply

      Nicole… thank you for your fabulously thoughtful comments! It is so true – women do tend to “wait for the ask” – with raises, promotions, taking the stage… I find that when I ASK to be included – I rarely hear no and, more often, receive a “of course, we would love to have you included”. During a women’s summit here in Seattle last year… we talked about how the WORDS we traditionally use in the biz world – for example – negotiate and network don’t resonate as well with women as collaborate to win and connect do. In essence – they are the SAME.

      I am so thankful to be living in the world today, surrounded by amazing women like you… together we will make a difference. I just know it.

      Now is the time. This is the place. We are the ones. :)

  • Sherry Chris
    Posted at 15:55h, 08 March Reply

    Thank you Debra for penning this very important post and reminding us of the importance of supporting one another always.

    • Debra Trappen
      Posted at 16:44h, 08 March Reply

      Thank you, Sherry! Inspired by you and and how you “lead by example” every single day… Cheers!

  • Rosemary Buerger
    Posted at 16:30h, 08 March Reply

    I truly enjoyed this post. Your question at the end made me immediately think of an organization that two agents in my office work with, Girls on the Run. GoTR empowers young girls ages 8-12 physically, mentally and spiritually to help them be stronger in all those areas. It’s finished with a goal of running a 5k race and staying connected to empowering other girls to follow suit. It’s a wonderful organization.

    It is a pleasure to walk a path that is more open to women than ever before. It is by the grace of those women who stand up and stand out that help all of us. The women you listed,as well as yourself, are all blazing trails!


    • Debra Trappen
      Posted at 16:46h, 08 March Reply

      Thank you for your kind words… and for sharing about Girls On The Run! Sounds like a fabulous organization… I agree – we are truly blessed to be living in such a time as this! Cheers!

  • Michele Serro
    Posted at 18:25h, 08 March Reply

    Thank you again Debra for the mention and for your support and attention to this opportunity. I though you might find comfort in knowing that 2 out of our 3 engineers are women :-) It’s something that makes me incredibly happy and optimistic. Love and support to you and all.

    • Debra Trappen
      Posted at 18:29h, 08 March Reply

      Michele – I LOVE that you have female engineers… and I am SO not surprised!! You lead and ROCK by example, sister. Looking forward to the future… and all of the amazing things ahead! Cheers! :)

  • Shandel Slaten
    Posted at 19:12h, 08 March Reply

    Debra – Fantastic blog and I am so grateful you are on the speaking panel for LEXI Women’s Leadership Summit. I want to see this… ” the stage was packed from side to side with hot new vendors and companies, but not one woman in the bunch.” not happen again!


    • Debra Trappen
      Posted at 19:21h, 08 March Reply

      Thank you, Shandel!! I am super excited to share with the LEXI Ladies in a couple of weeks… and look forward to inspiring each of them to connect and create experiences to build one another up! BOOM! :)

  • Teresa Boardman
    Posted at 04:47h, 09 March Reply

    Lets not forget that real estate sales is a female dominated occupation. About 60% of real estate agents in the US are woman. When I am in the field working I feel as though the playing field is level and that is part of what attracted me to real estate. Woman and houses are like chocolate and peanut butter in that they seem to go together and compliment each other. Woman sell tons of real estate and I have not found any glass ceiling for real estate sales people. It is when we are done with out clients and go into the office or go to a conference that the problems start. If we are not seeing enough woman on stage at conferences it is because the organizations who put on conferences are choosing male speakers over female. I am sure they have good reasons for that just like I have good reasons for having lost interest in some of the real estate conferences and some of the regular speakers who don’t seem to do anything but speak at conferences. I am fortunate that I don’t need real estate offices or real estate conferences to achieve success in my career because at times I find it depressing that we have made so little progress since I started my journey in the work world in the 1980’s.

    • Debra Trappen
      Posted at 10:32h, 09 March Reply

      Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts, Teresa. Brilliantly stated. Those first stats are exactly what attracted me to real estate 10 years ago… and the second set about office/conference issues has spark so many of the conversations I mentioned above… I believe the time is close… A change of speaker scenery is coming… and I plan to be part of making that happen. Cheers!!

  • Susan Stynes
    Posted at 06:57h, 09 March Reply

    Bravo! To all the great women in the past that inspire us all and to the fabulous women crushing it today, let’s keep it going because we are changing gender stereotypes and achieving great things! Thank you Debra!

    • Debra Trappen
      Posted at 10:33h, 09 March Reply

      Amen, Susan! We are making another round of waves… even as I type this!! BOOM. :)

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