Towards more inclusive equality and diversity in the Australian valuation industry

By Dr Dulani Halvitigala (PhD), Dr Judith Callanan (PhD) and Associate Professor Rebecca Leshinsky (PhD)

New research highlights that the valuation industry in Australia continues to lack diversity in gender and minority group representation, and is impacting on the future of the valuation profession.

Read the research here.

There are many challenges that face the valuation industry, including advances in technology, and macro effects such as government policy changes, however one of the biggest challenges is staffing levels.

The catch-cry in the industry, when we attend functions or talk with industry colleagues, is ‘we desperately need more staff’. This research looks at one aspect of the staffing requirements, and that is the equality and diversity of the workforce.  With the need to gain more staff, the barriers and challengers that may restrict minority groups (this includes females) from entering the industry is important to growing and retaining the valuation workforce.

The aim of this study is to establish why fewer females are employed in valuation and to provide recommendations with impact on improving the gender balance, diversity, and inclusion within the profession. More specifically, the following research questions were addressed in the study:

  1. What are the perceptions and experiences of female valuers on the equality and diversity within the industry and key issues confronted by them?
  2. Do property professional bodies have sufficient gender and equal employment policy objectives to encourage a diverse membership and how do they implement them?
  3. Do valuation companies have sufficient policies and mechanisms to attract, retain and promote a diverse workforce and how do they implement them?
  4. What are the strategies and procedures followed by educators to attract and promote women and minority groups into the valuation career path?
  5. What are the perceptions of current students from diverse genders and minority groups of their career choices and valuation as their future career path?

The research incorporated surveys with RMIT University students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) studying in 2022, focus groups with female valuers at various levels within the organisation and a mix of male/female executives and senior leaders from valuation firms, followed by interviews with professional bodies, then with university educators teaching valuation. A desktop study was also carried out to examine public information on the valuation companies’ websites, to ascertain their staffing gender breakdown at senior leadership, executive, and board of directors’ level. Information and positions relating to diversity were also captured. Membership data and policies were then obtained from professional bodies.

API data shows that females are currently underrepresented, at less than 30% of the total membership. This figure is consistent across every state with figures varying from a low of 18% in Western Australia through to 28% in South Australia (See Figure 1). These figures represent the full membership category and are not broken down into categories. The percentage improves when the student membership is considered, with 39% of student API members being female. Australian universities, that have API accredited degrees, depict varying numbers at a relatively low rate of between 25 – 35%.

Figure 1. Gender composition of the API across the various Australian States and Territories.

The property industry remains divided in its views on gender equality and diversity and consequently missing out on significant financial opportunities (Ernst & Young, 2014). The issue is more prevalent in the valuation industry which continues to be largely male dominated. People from minority groups (such as people from different ethnic groups, people from low socio-economic backgrounds, indigenous Australians, people with disabilities and residents from underrepresented geographical locations) are also significantly underrepresented within the valuation profession.

Overall, the study has the following main findings:

  1. There was unanimity in all stakeholder opinions that although the female presence in the valuation industry has improved over the years, the valuation industry remains a male dominated profession, that is also lacking in cultural diversity.
  2. Longstanding socio-cultural perceptions (prejudicial views about women’s abilities and their place in the industry), internal structural issues and family commitments are the three main obstacles to achieving gender diversity in the Australian valuation industry.
  3. The number of men holding on to senior positions, well past the traditional retirement age, provides a perception of a lack of succession planning and subsequent inability for women to progress up the ranks.
  4. Despite the increased awareness and the initiatives over the years, the valuation profession remains a relatively unknown career option for high school leavers.
  5. Some university educators are advising that valuation is not as popular as other areas of property, however this varies greatly across the universities, with others saying it is a highly sought after area for students.
  6. Many students from minority backgrounds felt that they experienced less favourable treatment when looking for training or employment opportunities due to their age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and command of the English language.
  7. Research findings provide some useful insight for further discussion on what universities, professional associations and the industry must do to attract and retain talents to achieve a gender diverse workforce.

Why are these findings important?

Valuation companies have struggled to not only attract women and minority groups into the profession, but also to retain these groups. Such lack of diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity and age has implications for both how the profession is defined, educated, and how it can market itself along with client perception. Lack of gender equality and diversity in a certain profession could exacerbate skill shortages, reduce economic productivity, and constrain its innovative capacity (Dimovski et al., 2016).

The literature shows that having women at executive level within a company, improves the investment returns and performance of the company (Warren and Antoniades, 2016). In effect, companies with a gender diverse workforce stand to gain from female employees’ networks. It is also argued that female presence in leadership is essential since it provides corporate leadership with a variety of perspectives in decision making, particularly because the property industry is mainly a customer-driven one (Schrand et al. 2018). Hence in making decisions, property companies with a gender diverse leadership stand to gain from diverse thoughts and a broader knowledge base. This yields competitive advantage and fosters creativity. In the words of Ernst & Young and the Property Council of Australia (2018, p. 4) “innovation occurs at the intersection of diverse ideas and perspectives”.

There is a growing body of literature that supports the notion that a gender-diverse workforce gives rise to increased efficiency and higher output in organisations (Property NSW 2017; Ernst & Young and Property Council of Australia 2018; Clack and Gabler 2019; Levy et al. 2021). It is argued that organisations that are gender diverse are representative and attractive since they can better address the needs of their clients, shareholders, and communities (Chief Executive Women & Male Champions of Change 2018). Hence, companies that do not strive to attain a gender-balanced workforce risk missing out on the best talent and enhancing corporate performance (London Property Alliance, 2021).

While the literature points to the progress made over the years, it is evident that achieving gender parity in the property valuation profession requires a sustained and coordinated effort by various stakeholders. Pritchard and Miles (2018) share this view and state that although there have been initiatives to train, support and prepare women to ascend leadership roles and measures to address the workplace challenges women face, the pace of change towards achieving gender diversity remains slow. As the foregoing shows, attracting more women into the valuation profession will transform the sector and open up the profession to attract a quality workforce. This necessitates concrete action by key stakeholders such as governments, the property industry, professional bodies and educators.

What do the findings mean for industry?

A common theme from the interviews and focus groups was to consider the number of females at the entry point, which is the students entering the University valuation programs. This is then considered to be the pool of females that are then going to progress into the industry. The next stage is whether those females are then choosing to go into valuation as a profession rather than other property areas. From there, the consideration is whether females are remaining in the industry, and finally, whether they are then represented at the executive, senior levels.  Every stage of the process is critical to diversity being achieved across all levels of the industry, and to enhance retention of female valuers in the profession.  A key phrase raised by the female valuers that resonated with all present is that: ‘you cannot be, what you cannot see’. This phrase was applicable across the varying stages of the career progression, from students entering university, through to working in valuation and progressing to senior executive positions. All groups reinforced the requirement for the female leaders within the valuation industry, professional bodies, and educators to step forward to provide role models and act as mentors to other females entering the industry.

Results across all groups support that, although the gender balance has improved slightly, it is nowhere near at an acceptable level.  When asked about the level of gender balance in their organisations, interviewees across the groups felt that there are less than 30% of females in their organisations that work in valuation.  The number of females across the organisation is greater, however they are not working in valuation.

A significant issue that emerged in the discussions with the female valuers was the slow career progression in the industry and gender biased promotion practices. Several study participants highlighted women’s inability to rise to leadership positions and gender biased promotion policies as the most potent impediments to women’s retention in the Australian valuation industry. Concerning the slow pace of career advancement, they indicated that older white men in the industry retain positions beyond their retirement age. This signals to female valuers, especially those in middle management levels, that there are no feasible pathways for upward career mobility within the valuation profession. As one female valuer noted:

“In my view, you lose women in the industry because I see it as in that middle area that the women are just going elsewhere and not hanging around in valuations. There are probably a few different reasons for that, but I think it does go towards the retention issue and they’re just lack of being able to see a pathway forward in these older men really holding those positions for way too long in my opinion.”

In addition, several participants opined that even where opportunities for promotion are available, employers overlook eligible females and pass such opportunities to their male counterparts. Thus, they believe that instead of promoting workers based on merit, crony-based promotions remain the order of the day within the valuation industry. A female valuer expressed her disquiet about this practice when she remarked that:

“It is definitely a massive boys’ club, you know, they only want to promote people, their friends with all they know and have contact with.”

On the part of the valuation companies, study participants recommended a comprehensive review of recruitment, promotion, training, and mentorship practices in line with gender diversity best practices. Given its male-dominated industry image, they advised valuation companies to reconsider their organisational practices in terms of job demands, career progression, remuneration, rewards, training, and mentorship opportunities for women. Since women take up much of the family and household responsibilities, they also advised on the need for internal support for female valuers in terms of flexible and adaptive working arrangements and reintegration programmes for women returning to the industry after extended breaks. Other recommendations include targeted initiatives that promote female leaders to leadership positions and enhance their visibility in industry events.

A survey of students, undertaking valuation degrees, show that some students from minority backgrounds felt that they experienced less favourable treatment when looking for training or employment opportunities due to their age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and command of the English language. The findings also revealed that international students strongly believed that ‘word of mouth’ recruitment practices impacts their training and career opportunities. This goes to support the findings in the report where some female valuers and valuation company executives noted some challenges confronting ethnic minorities in the valuation industry. With the shift towards a diverse and inclusive workforce, this finding highlights the need for the industry to do more to address these matters.

The student survey provided excellent insights, with most property students seeing valuation as their preferred career path, as compared to their other options within the property industry. When results are then broken down to gender, there was no difference between the genders preferences. This shows that the perceptions that the industry holds of itself as being a male dominated industry and old boys’ club has not perpetuated down to the student level and female students still see valuation as a good career path for them.

It can be concluded that having a significant number of females at the lower rungs of the career ladder may not automatically translate into larger female numbers at the top hierarchies, nor the retaining of these employees with the firm. Therefore, unless the industry makes a concerted attempt to attract, retain and promote female valuers, attaining a gender diverse valuation profession across all levels, especially at the top echelons of leadership, will remain a pipe dream. Perseverance in implementing gender-based initiatives will show results, however this is not expected to happen quickly, with participants indicating it could take time to see major changes.

Findings from the RMIT University study conducted by the School of Property, Construction and Project Management, lead us to the conclusion that there is a recognition by all parties, that the industry still has a long way to go to achieve gender diversity and inclusion of minority groups. Hence, as recommended by the study participants, the professional bodies, specifically the API, valuation companies and educational institutions must work collaboratively towards ensuring a gender diverse valuation industry for the future. There is some urgency in these endeavours for a significant number of current valuers, many of whom are males are set to retire in the next decade or so.


  1. Professional bodies should establish processes and support groups to promote female participation in the valuation profession and networks. This includes personalised mentorship and professional development opportunities in leadership training for women in the valuation profession, along with cultural diversity training for all members.
  2. Professional bodies working in partnership with the valuation industry to establish scholarship schemes to assist students, particularly those from minority groups, interested in pursuing property valuation degrees.
  3. University educators must play a pivotal role to enhance gender balance in the valuation profession by demonstrating role models in the valuation sector, including in leadership roles, and promoting valuation as a good career path for females.
  4. API to look to adopting the Property Council initiatives for improving diversity in the industry, such as male champions of change, Girls in Property, and the 40:40:20 committee memberships.
  5. A collaborative and coordinated approach needs to be taken between industry, professional bodies, and educators in marketing the profession to school leavers, to increase the pool of talent, which will ultimately increase the number of females entering the valuation industry.
  6. Valuation companies to support women with flexible project timelines that allow them to advance their careers whilst also maintaining their family and life responsibilities.
  7. Valuation companies to carry out a comprehensive review of recruitment, promotion, training, and mentorship practices in-line with gender diversity best practice.
  8. Female role models are important in all levels of the industry, from junior through to executive level. This is also extended to the university educators who should demonstrate diversity across staff teaching valuation and property professionals more generally.
  9. There is scope for ongoing research and practical strategies to ensure the valuation profession has a robust stream of new valuers that are diverse, inclusive and gender balanced.


Learn more about the research here.


Australian Property Institute 2022, Membership snapshot in In relation to gender diversity – statistics as at 1 January 2022, Australian Property Institute.

Chief Executive Women & Male Champions of Change 2018, Backlash and Buy-in: Responding to the challenges in achieving gender equality, viewed 23/02/2022, <>.

Clack, A & Gabler, J 2019, Managing Diversity and Inclusion in the Real Estate Sector, Routledge.

Dimovski, B, Lombardi, L, Ratcliffe, C & Cooper, BJ 2016, ‘Australian real estate management and development companies and women directors’, Property Management, vol. 34 no. 1, pp. 18-28.

Ernst & Young 2014, The next big deal is on. Property industry, where are you on gender diversity?

Ernst & Young & Property Council of Australia 2018, Grow the talent pool: Insights on gender representation, diversity and inclusion in the property industry, Ernst & Young Australia and Property Council of Australia.

Levy, D, Plester, B, Hills, R & Horan, J 2021, ‘‘It’s a man’s world’: the lived experiences of women working in the New Zealand professional commercial property industry’, Journal of Property Research, vol., pp. 1-22.

London Property Alliance 2021, Diversifying Real Estate: Gender Guidebook commissioned by CPA & WPA NextGen, London Property Alliance.

Pritchard, S & Miles, E 2018, Where are the women in major projects leadership?, Buckinghamshire, UK.

Property NSW 2017, Diversity in the property sector, Property NSW, Australia.

Schrand, L, Ascherl, C & Schaefers, W 2018, ‘Gender diversity and financial performance: evidence from US REITs’, Journal of Property Research, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 296-320

Warren, CM & Antoniades, H 2016, ‘Deconstructing the glass ceiling: gender equality in the Australian property profession’, Property Management, vol. 34 no. 1, pp. 29-43.

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