CREW Charlotte members partner with a local high school for last year's Bring a Girl to CRE Day.
When my daughter was a toddler, she loved to put things together. She would spend hours stacking books up, putting Legos together and organizing toys in a circle around her. She would line up all of her dolls and stuffed animals in row on the sofa, neatly organizing and preparing them for story hour so she could read them a book.
As she grew older, Legos became a way to feed her curiosity for how things went together and created shapes and structures. Probably our biggest project was when she was about 8 or 9 years old. We built “Barbie Village.” Yes—we took all of her Barbies including Nurse Barbie, Teacher Barbie, Camping Barbie and Dancing Barbie, and arranged them around the playroom as a village, practically building our own little Barbie city.
Oh, we said… look she’s going to be an engineer! She loves to build things. Or wait, she’s going to be an architect! She’s got a knack for creating spaces and is curious about how things fit together. We believed that this was her calling as indicated by her deep engagement in putting things together.
This early interest in building and putting things together reminds me that many young and teen girls engage in this type of play. The way to feed their curiosity and interest in this path toward a career not just in engineering, but in all facets of the commercial real estate industry, is to expose them to the ideas, tools and professions that build our communities.
CREW Network has been leading efforts to build the talent pipeline for over 20 years through our career outreach programs. Kudos to all of our chapters who have dedicated their talent and resources to educating the next generation of women in commercial real estate through programs such as CREW Careers and UCREW. We continue to educate girls to learn the many opportunities that exist for them in career paths that perhaps have not been considered in the past. If she can see it, she can be it—as Geena Davis says.
Two years ago, CREW Network joined other industry organizations to launch Careersbuildingcommunities.org. This is a fabulous tool for students, parents, teachers and career counselors to help girls identify a career path they may have not considered in the past. The website is interactive and fun for students to discover where their talents and interest might be in commercial real estate.
While we could not bring our daughters to work for Bring a Girl to CRE Day this year, our CRE Career Day and Lunchboxes & Leadership virtual session supports our efforts—and your opportunity—to help build the talent pipeline. If we want diversity in commercial real estate, each of us needs to make a commitment to expose younger generations to the variety of disciplines and career paths in the industry.
My daughter is now 29 and we were wrong. Instead of a building career she chose occupational therapy, which is a great career for her. She is still very good at putting things together, as puzzles are one of her favorite pastimes!
At CREW Network, we build success, business, diversity and connections—and especially the talent pipeline. Let’s keep educating young women about the vast opportunities and together build a more diverse and inclusive industry.
more CREW View
Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.