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Business Building by Margaret Kelly

RISMEDIA, Oct. 7, 2008-Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us, and I can’t think of a more perfect time to celebrate women and their achievements.

As a breast cancer survivor, I’m particularly proud of the strengths I’ve seen women exhibit tackling personal and professional challenges. There’s no limit to a determined woman’s fortitude.

Oddly, the only real limits that exist for women are ones set for them-not by them. And there’s no place where this is truer than in the workforce.

According to U.S. Labor Department statistics, women in full-time salaried positions today are paid 80% of men’s average weekly pay. Actually, the phrasing is “earn 80 percent,” but I can’t help but reason that if women’s salaries were based on what they’ve earned, there would be no gap.

I’m encouraged, however, by the professions in which a person’s earnings are more directly correlated to time and effort-namely real estate.

What was once a male-dominated field now comprises a thriving female contingent of more than half the total Realtor membership-59%, according to 2007 NAR statistics.

The NAR data also indicate that real estate continues to grow in popularity among women, with a 4-percentage-point increase in the number of female Realtors from 2005 to 2007. And I can understand why.

-Flexible schedule – As a real estate agent, you’re not forced to choose between family and career because you set your hours.

-Opportunities to create and innovate – You’re driving your productivity and overall success, tapping into your own talents to find effective ways to expand your business through advertising, marketing, networking and other means.

-Professional development – By taking business development courses, earning specialized designations and certifications, attending conferences and joining trade organizations, you’re finding no shortage of learning and networking opportunities.

-Connecting with clients – Being a good real estate agent is about establishing and nurturing solid relationships with clients. You’re making sure this is a top priority.

-Community outreach – Few professionals are more plugged into their communities than real estate agents. You’re leveraging your influence to build support for local groups and charities.

-Earning potential – As long as houses are being bought and sold, your income is based on nothing but your skill and motivation. Real estate is a strong career choice-particularly if the phrase “glass ceiling” has no place in your vocabulary. RE

Margaret Kelly, CRB, is chief executive officer of RE/MAX International.

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