Three women leading the way in the property industry share their stories for International Women’s Day

Stock image.
Stock image.

IN celebration of International Women’s Day, Residential spoke to three women leading the way in the property industry.

With women making up an estimated 46 per cent of real estate agents in WA – and outnumbering their male counterparts in property management – it is probably surprising that it was only just over 30 years ago that a brave few forged a pathway to bring gender equality to the industry.

Lisa Joyce has 30 years’ experience in the property industry and is the deputy president of Reiwa and director of Joyce Property Investments.

“Apart from a brief stint with a firm of chartered accountants in Melbourne, I have always worked in the property industry,” Ms Joyce said.

“I spent eight years working at Reiwa looking at the industry from a legislative and administrative perspective.

“This fuelled my ambition to step into the cut and thrust of the industry.”

Lisa Joyce.

She said working as a woman in real estate still brought challenges.

“I am careful to avoid situations where my actions or behaviour may be misconstrued and I am acutely aware of managing personal safety – this is something women in real estate need to be conscious of,” Ms Joyce said.

When she started her career, she said it was a more robust work environment with a semi-skilled workforce; contemporary real estate was an evolving industry driven by technology, knowledge, compliance-regulation and a more sophisticated knowledge.

“To succeed you need strong interpersonal skills, the ability to learn and adapt to new technology, capacity to negotiate positive outcomes, knowledge of legislation and compliance issues governing the industry and a sound understanding of the property market and factors influencing the property industry,” Ms Joyce said.

“You need to adapt, then adapt again, like people and invest in the outcomes of your clients, otherwise it may be a short term career.”

UDIA WA chief executive Tanya Steinbeck started her career as a “bright, young 17-year-old” in 1997 and has also faced some challenges over the years.

“While I have always been supported in my career, in particular by some outstanding male mentors that have believed in my ability, I still to this day deal with the odd male who will treat me as less than equal,” she said.

“I always say that being underestimated is the biggest competitive advantage you have.”

Ms Steinbeck has a wealth of property development industry experience in WA across the private, government and peak body sectors.

“I enjoy the opportunities to make Perth a better place,” she said.

“We have some of the brightest and most innovative property people here in WA, and with a renewed focus on infrastructure and housing choice, it’s a great time to be in the industry.”

Tanya Steinbeck.

Ms Steinbeck said the property industry had changed since she started her career, with far more women entering the industry in more recent years.

“In some disciplines gender equality has been achieved, in others we have a way to go,” she said.

“There are still too few women in senior leadership roles in the industry, but I think we are on the right track.”

One of Ms Steinbeck’s goals is to support other women in the industry.

“If I can mentor and inspire more women to choose a career in property development, that would be great,” she said.

“If they are looking at starting a career, my advice would be the property industry in Perth is quite small – networking is essential to start building relationships and organisations such as the UDIA offer many opportunities.

“Give your first role 150 per cent and once you prove your ability and deliver beyond expectation, the next opportunity will come.”

Property Council executive director Sandra Brewer said with one in three people in WA drawing a wage from property, the industry was a bigger employer than mining and manufacturing combined.

Her first involvement in property began when she met her husband, who is a builder.

“Like many, I didn’t set out for a career in property,” Ms Brewer said.

“Most people begin with a specialisation, such as commerce, law or accounting, and end up working in property.

“I started with a commerce degree that turned into a marketing and general management career.

“I was a marketing consultant to the residential, commercial and property development industry for about 10 years before commencing as executive director of the Property Council.”

Ms Brewer said early in her career she felt like the “odd one out in meeting rooms full of men” but the industry had been extremely committed to improving diversity.

“The momentum to increase diversity has certainly changed the workplace and it’s necessitated new models of working,” she said.

“When I began it was Monday to Friday, 8 to 6, or nothing. Part-time was perceived as lazy and rarely available to senior people.

“The flexibility in the workplace now is amazing.”

Sandra Brewer.

To help encourage more women to take up a career in the industry, which faced scrutiny for being too male-dominated, the Property Council launched its Girls in Property program last year.

“Girls in Property involves reaching out to students before they forge their careers, to help create a sustainable pipeline of talent for the growing property industry,” Ms Brewer said.