March brings Women’s History Month and we highlight the talents and trailblazing contributions women in real estate and related fields have brought us over the years.
Our first profile focuses on the residential real estate market. Did you know it was not until 1974 with the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act that it was technically legal for banks to refuse loans and credit to single women or require a married woman to have her husband’s signature? This important change only happened 49 years ago.
At the National Association of Realtors (NAR) inception in 1908, there was not a single woman member despite the 3,000+ women working as brokers nationally at the time. It wasn’t until two years later when Corrine Simpson, a broker from Seattle, that the NAR housed their first female member. While women were not explicitly banned from organizations like the NAR, they were explicitly banned from local real estate boards. Without membership to your local board, women were not allowed entry into the NAR. Corrine had been a Seattle real estate market fixture for years prior to her acceptance into the NAR, and her admittance paved the way for others like her to join their local groups and eventually make some of their own. Learn more here.
Business leader and community leader Ernesta Procope was born in New York City in 1913. During a time when women entrepreneurs were rare, she founded E.G. Bowman Company, one of the first Black-owned insurance companies in the U.S. Through her company she played a significant role in helping Black homeowners overcome the challenge of securing insurance for their properties.
Her firsts and accomplishments span decades, and include having the first Black-owned business to be located on Wall Street, as well as the broker of record for the New York City Housing Authority. Procope’s story can be read here.
Catherine Bauer influenced and helped change social housing practice and law, beginning with being the primary author of the Housing Act of 1937 also known as the Wagner-Steagall Act. This revolutionized American housing by providing affordable, subsidized residences for low-income citizens for the very first time.
Soon after she became a Visiting Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare, lecturing at schools around the country, as well as helping establish the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design. Learn more about Bauer here.
While not often spoken about, women’s influence was strong throughout the Industrial Revolution. Our series focused on Women’s History Month continues with another influential woman, this time in the engineering space.
Emily Warren Roebling, an engineer from Cold Spring, New York, took over and directed the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge after her husband fell ill. The bridge was originally planned by John A. Roebling, Emily’s father in-law. After John died of tetanus, Emily’s husband, Washington Roebling, began construction on the bridge before he too fell ill. Emily took copious notes and began studying on her own to eventually become the primary intelligence behind the bridge. Emily’s story is here.
Our last profile is a woman of many firsts, Julia Morgan. Even before her 46-year career began, Julia was one of the first female engineering majors to graduate from University of California, Berkeley in 1894; the first woman to graduate from and pass the entrance exam in architecture for the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts; and the first licensed woman architect in California. Her best known work is for the Hearst Castle, an estate in San Simeon, California, which today stands as a National Historic Landmark.
In 2014 more than 50 years after her death she became the first woman to be awarded the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal, the organization’s highest honor. Julia’s story is here.