The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘an equal world is an enabled world’. At RICS, we celebrate the contribution of women around the world in our profession and are working to attract more women into it.
We have a global target for the proportion of women entering our profession and we are seeing increases around world, creating a promising pipeline of future talent.
There are many women making invaluable contributions to our profession, and we make sure they are represented in our decision-making boards and visible throughout our global platforms. We have gathered some examples of RICS professionals from around the world to talk about their career challenges and opportunities.
Elizabeth believes women in construction face many challenges that men do not. These include lower pay generally compared to male colleagues of the same grade, and a stereotypical bias that women have diminished physical strength. Role models are important, therefore, as they give visibility to women’s success.
Construction is not an obvious choice, she says, but a growing number of females are building successful, fulfilling careers in this challenging industry, with female RICS professionals holding senior positions with cost consultants, developers and contractors across Africa.
“There are instances where women are excluded from working on certain projects because it is believed they cannot ‘manage’ being on site.”
Susanne worked for over 20 years in the Jamaican Land Valuation Department – a government agency responsible for the assessment of property for tax purposes. Over that time, she was also an adjunct lecturer to students on real estate valuation at the University of Technology, where teaching came naturally to her. She is now an assessor for APC candidates.
According to Lyon-Josephs, being an assessor for RICS in the Valuation Pathway has made her more aware of her own professional standards: "It causes you to up your own game," she says. "You don't want to be setting standards for a candidate you haven't maintained yourself, in terms of professionalism and thoughtfulness. The desire to maintain professional trust is a desire that you take into your everyday life."
The RICS qualification has supported her ability to speak at conferences and contribute to several manuals, journal articles, and books, including one book on the 150 year occupation of Jamaica by Spain.
Rita is a chartered surveyor and a member of the RICS Diversity and Inclusion Committee in Hong Kong. Significantly, Wong notes that directly and indirectly, the surveying profession contributes about 10 per cent of Hong Kong’s GDP. Furthermore, Wong says that from a career perspective, the surveying profession in Hong Kong offers plenty to be excited about. Once a male domain, these days women across all sectors of the profession hold positions at all levels and the number is increasing. In Hong Kong RICS-qualified women account for 24 percent of the surveying profession compared with 14 percent in the UK.
“It is encouraging to see progress made in the growth of female membership, from enrolment into surveying to professional qualification. Effort of RICS in supporting and promoting diversity and inclusion through raising awareness of barriers to D&I and influencing changes beyond just gender diversity has helped the progression of our members and profession. There is much more we can all do. Doing big great things about this agenda is great. However, for individuals, I believe aggregate of each individual walking small ‘diversity and inclusion talk’ in a great way can be equally powerful.”
Marcia is a champion of women’s equality in Latin America and a member of RICS’ staff who sets an example of allyship and transformational change. Ferrari is part of INFRA Women Brazil, which supports women in the infrastructure sector and promotes female role models in the industry. Here’s what she told RICS:
“The main intention of INFRA Women Brazil is to encourage women in the profession to pursue their career’s success. Profiling role models is without any doubt more powerful than a thousand words, and that was the main intention behind the creation of our podcast. The podcast became a powerful vehicle for any stakeholder in the country and our next project is the creation of a mentorship program.
It is important to highlight that what really motivates each and every one of us at INFRA Women Brazil is the passion for the profession. Creating space for other women to occupy higher steps of the ladder means, at the end of the day, better discussions around the topic, more profit for companies, creative technical solutions for everyday problems … it means living a dream at the ultimate level where we can be acknowledged for our performances, regardless of our gender”.
Judith believes that as a sustainable 21st century professional body, RICS has a key role to play to encourage further action relating to equal opportunities and the advancement of women.
“Employers need to build and retain a healthy pipeline and a more diverse talent pool to run the businesses of the future. Although there is evidence of the advantages, the image of the property sector is still perceived as protectionist, resistant to change and a male preserve. This results in skilled women turning their back on the business, threatening performance and talent”, said Judith.
For Zoe, International Women’s Day is an important day to celebrate the contribution women make to the world we live in and recognise them for all they do.
Bashforth says: “Equality is something we should keep at the forefront of our minds. Incredible women have fought hard so that we can have what we have today, and we need to continue to support one another and continue to work towards a more equal world.
"Women have so much to offer our profession, we bring a new dimension to what has traditionally been a male dominated one. We are seeing more women entering the profession, which is exciting.
"There is a great network of women out there who will embrace you in the profession and who will support you throughout your career."
“It was only after starting my own family that I began to realise just how much of a juggling act I needed to perform to keep everything running smoothly. Having young children and working full time is not easy for anyone, male or female. The constant pulls in various directions, the sleepless nights, the mental and emotional pressures and the guilt you feel as a working mother is immense.
Working for a company like Jacobs was a game changer for me. 13 years ago, I joined the QS team in Manchester where they were already implementing flexible working, something that I hadn’t seen before in private consulting organisations at that time. At that time, my daughter was a year old and as she was my first child it was the first time I had experienced the mental and emotional struggle between parenthood and working full time.
I felt supported as both a parent and a professional QS and this gave me the confidence to pursue Chartership. The RICS’ varied routes to professional membership meant that my 10 years in the industry at the time allowed me entry to the professional experience route.
“There were very few women when I started out. Often, I’d be the only female in the room at meetings: my colleagues referred to me as the ‘honorary man’. But it’s getting much better in the property world at all levels and the advice I would offer to those wanting to progress in a male-dominated industry is: be the best that you can be and you will be rewarded for that.”
Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator
Dr Gus Bussmann is the Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator at RICS and works with the Head of Future Talent to ensure the successful delivery of the D&I strategy. Gus is also Deputy Head of Policy at Pride in London and an acknowledged expert in LGBT rights, committed to support with understanding and to inspire the next generation’s activities and initiatives.