Are women being fairly represented within the mortgage industry?

Much to be done to ensure women’s voices are heard, says executive

Are women being fairly represented within the mortgage industry?

The US mortgage industry may traditionally have been viewed as something of a “boys-only” club – but that perception is slowly changing as representation of women within the sector begins to climb.

Zippia’s latest research on loan officer demographics in the US indicates that the disparity between male and female employment in the profession has slowly whittled down since 2010, with men making up 55.3% of loan officers as of 2022 and women accounting for 44.7%.

The company’s study, which estimated loan officer demographics and statistics in the US by using a database of 30 million profiles, also shone a light on pay inequality in the field – noting that female loan officers earned 87% of what men made in 2022.

It’s worth emphasizing that the industry has made slow progress toward gender parity in terms of representation, with the percentage of female loan officers seeing only a slight uptick over the past 12 years – and fluctuating substantially from year to year.

In a recent interview with Mortgage Professional America on her launch of a women-only industry event in Texas, Paige Hernandez (pictured top), senior mortgage loan originator at Heritage MTG Inc., highlighted the impostor syndrome that can sometimes rear its head when it comes to forging a career as a woman in the mortgage industry.

“[There are] different challenges that we [encounter] when we start building our business, especially in the online space,” Hernandez said. “We think things like, ‘Who does she think she is?’ That’s one of the first things that pops up when you put yourself out there. I don’t think men think that.”

Industry events: Is a change needed?

While Hernandez praised efforts by organizations such as the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME) to put women forward for panels and ensure stronger female representation at industry events, she said the most prominent voices within the sector continued to be male.

“It’s a little bit more female than male in the field, but what we see up on stage is consistently male,” she said. “It just got to a point where I was like, ‘I can’t go to another all-male panel, because my life as a woman in business and in mortgage with children and all of that – my challenges are a little bit different.

“It was just over and over and over, every leadership [event] I was at I saw 90% male. I would address that, even at leadership events with lenders [where] they were hosts: I would ask, ‘Are women just not invited? What is the deal here?’”

Hernandez noted a skewed proportion of men on stage at those events, she said, at odds with the actual makeup of the industry.

“There’s a disconnect there, because if the field is [nearly] a 50-50 split, why aren’t we seeing a 50-50 split in leadership, and up on stage, and all of that?”

When it comes to an oft-repeated phrase in the industry – “finding the best person for the job” – women are also frequently disadvantaged, Hernandez said, because they’re on balance much likelier to have to juggle work and family or childcare commitments than men.

“A lot of times what happens is as women, we have children, we have to take ourselves out of the workforce,” she said. “So we’re not climbing that corporate ladder, and we don’t end up in the high levels of leadership. Or if we do win it – we can’t go, because we have kids.”

Homeownership trends between men and women seeing big change

 The importance of gender equity in the mortgage industry is underscored by recent statistics that show single women living alone are increasingly more likely to own a home than men – in 47 of 50 states, according to a LendingTree analysis of latest US Census Bureau data.

Single women own 10.95 million homes across the US compared to 8.24 million homes owned by single men, LendingTree said – an average of 12.93% of owner-occupied homes across the country, compared with 10.22% for single men.

Alaska, North Dakota and South Dakota were the only states where single men owned a higher share of homes than single women, according to the report.

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