It is important to give credit where credit is due. In reference to our CREW Network Foundation campaign theme, The Future of CRE is Female, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that these words first debuted on a t-shirt in 1972. The t-shirt was made for a women’s bookstore in New York City call Labyris Books, which opened in '72 by Jane Lurie and Marizel Rios.
In 1975, the phrase gained more attention when photographer Liz Cowan took a picture of her girlfriend, musician Alix Dobkin, wearing the words on a shirt and it caught the interest of media outlets. Cowan, a feminist, artist, activist and writer who was part of the lesbian separatist movement in the 1970s, said she saw separatism as “a way to figure out what it meant to be a woman…without having to bother with men telling you what you could not think or say. It was a way to develop networks of women’s businesses, publishers, bookstores and conferences…”
The rich history of these words aligns with our business network for commercial real estate women—giving and getting business for and with one another. At more than 40 years old, this slogan has gained new life and become an empowering statement for women in all walks of life and business.
The slogan reminds us that we all must continue to be unafraid to let our voices be heard. That together we are stronger and can overcome barriers that continue to exist for women in our society. While we have not seen great shifts in commercial real estate for gender diversity, equality and inclusion, we must continue to build a cadre of young women CRE professionals for the future. This is why the slogan is perfect for our campaign.
The future can only be female if we dedicate ourselves to making it happen now. Now is the time to support the next generation of women through our campaign. Now is the time to demonstrate our commitment to embracing gender diversity in our companies and with our partners and clients. Encourage, build and strengthen opportunities for women throughout commercial real estate in all that you do—and especially by investing in the next generation. Do it now—or we won’t have the future we have been envisioning for 40 years.
From 1972 to 2021, we still insist the future is female. Contribute to the CREW Network Foundation today and ensure your voice, support—and yes, even your t-shirt—says it loud and proud! Working together, the Future of CRE will be Female.
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Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.