International Women’s Day embraces a new theme each year, and this year’s was #BreakTheBias—which encourages people to forge women’s equality and break through unconscious biases in our communities, workplaces, and institutions.

At The Close, our mission is to deliver actionable advice to our readers, so we tapped four highly successful leaders in luxury real estate to ask what #BreakTheBias means to them, how they’re helping to lift up other women in real estate and their communities, and how everyone in our industry can to do the same. Their responses were so compelling that we’re sharing them in their entirety.

Tricia Lee, Leader of the Sold By Tricia Lee Team at SERHANT.

Tricia Lee

Tricia Lee is the leader of the Sold By Tricia Lee Team at SERHANT. and a former entrepreneur and small business owner in Brooklyn. She has sold over $100 million in total sales volume over the course of her career and has a special focus on educating women on the value of homeownership, hosting various workshops on the buying process, financial fitness, and more. Tricia was previously named among the Top Black Real Estate Brokers in Brooklyn

What advice would you give to other women to overcome the unique challenges that women face in our industry?

I think a large part of my success is a practice I have of asking myself, “what would (just) the average male do?” I know that it sounds funny or even simple, but there are distinct differences in how men show up in the workplace that I try to learn from. I ask myself if I’m explaining too much. Am I more focused on the task than the outcome? I want to put my efforts into actions that will make a huge impact and not just try to. 

I also ask myself if something actually requires an apology or is this just me feeling the need to. I just know as women, we must remind ourselves that we are a vital part of every conversation and problem solve. 

📌   Pro Tip

“I remind myself to show up boldly and take up space because my contributions are huge and anyone who gets the benefit of my time and my work is better for it.”

I try to acknowledge behavior that is not reflective of my true worth and edit. First off, if I’m in a room or conversation, I’m making a significant contribution. I have great ideas, knowledge, connections, and access. I remind myself to show up boldly and take up space because my contributions are huge and anyone who gets the benefit of my time and my work is better for it. That’s not about arrogance but it certainly is about confidence, and women need to have that or fake that until they truly feel that way. We are not lucky to be part of something—they are lucky to have us, and that is a mental shift more than anything, at least for me. 

What active steps do you take to lift up other women in our industry and/or in your community?

While I sell real estate day in day out, my passion project is the work I do in real estate around women’s financial education. I have my personal event series, “Money Matters w/ Tricia Lee,” which is a one-day financial wellness workshop held at SERHANT. House NYC that focuses on financial education, home ownership, and building wealth.

We learn about everything from retirement planning, home ownership, and wealth building to creating better money habits and saving. I consider this to be my way of contributing to the inequities and I dedicate a portion of my business proceeds to these causes. It also gives me a unique opportunity to work with the women within my community and even my friends. 

Mentorship is another way I believe women can uplift other women. I have three mentees for the last decade-plus and mentors around me as well.

Tricia Lee of SERHANT. and her colleagues
Tricia Lee and her colleagues

What suggestions would you make to men in leadership roles in our industry to do the same?

I think my advice to men in leadership roles would be to just bring as many perspectives as you can to your company and to your work; you do that by taking stock of the workforce, the management, and the leadership. Do you see diversity there? Do you believe that the members of your organization are set up to support your goals by having a vast amount of perspectives, backgrounds, and skill sets? To me, that is truly effective in breaking the bias—focus on representation.

📌   Pro Tip

“Do you believe that the members of your organization are set up to support your goals by having a vast amount of perspectives, backgrounds, and skill sets? To me, that is truly effective in breaking the bias—focus on representation.”

How can women leverage our natural abilities for networking (or other abilities) to succeed in real estate?

I think another key way to network is by finding ways to celebrate the accomplishments of your peers and highlighting women’s causes. This comes across in your messaging, the causes you highlight and financially support.



Carolina Bravo, Leader of the 212 Bravo Team at SERHANT.

Carolina Bravo

Carolina Bravo is the leader of the 212 Bravo Team at SERHANT. and has been in the real estate industry for more than 20 years. She has closed over $500 million in total sales volume in her career. She currently holds the listing for Kerry Washington’s former penthouse at 50 Riverside Blvd. for $25 million. She is also the host of ¡Vamos!, a SERHANT. Studios-produced series featuring property tours in Spanish. (Watch here and here.)

Do you have any advice for up & coming women in our industry to help them succeed & #BreakTheBias? 

The best advice I can give to up-and-coming women in our industry is to have a structured daily routine. I’m a big planner and I find that being structured and organized helps me save time and work smarter. I spend each day physically and mentally mapping out the next day, shifting my schedule if needed, and leaving time to prepare for listing presentations and meetings with other colleagues. And always ensuring I spend time with loved ones.

📌   Pro Tip

“Once a quarter, evaluate your schedule to see what’s working and what’s not. Make minor adjustments for higher productivity.”

What advice would you give to other women to overcome the unique challenges that women face in our industry?

I find that many women in real estate assume that working 1,000 miles per hour will help them grow quickly. But in reality, it can lead to stress, mental fatigue, or burnout. Establish boundaries and your non-negotiables. Once a quarter, evaluate your schedule to see what’s working and what’s not. Make minor adjustments for higher productivity. Prioritize exercise and sleep and get closer to nature to release some of that stress. Make sure you take time off from work and take some “Me Time” to recharge.

What active steps do you take to lift up other women in our industry and/or in your community? 

I like to pay it forward by committing the time and energy to mentor younger women in my industry, making sure their ideas are heard and giving them direct feedback that can help them learn and grow.

Carolina Bravo, Leader of the 212 Bravo Team at SERHANT.

Kayla Lee, Leader of the Kayla Lee Team at SERHANT.

Kayla Lee

Kayla Lee is the leader of The Kayla Lee Team specializing in the Manhattan, Astoria, and Long Island City markets. Kayla has closed over $350 million in total sales volume since founding her team six years ago, and has led sellouts at multiple new development projects, including the CORTE and The Harrison. Kayla is fluent in Korean and volunteers her time as a translator for Korean immigrants. She is also a local Long Island City entrepreneur and small business owner with a vintage barbershop.

Do you have any advice for up & coming women in our industry to help them succeed & #BreakTheBias?

My advice for up-and-coming women in the real estate industry would be to keep a positive attitude, value and celebrate diversity, and to create and foster an inclusive environment. Every attempt to go above and beyond and to raise each other up is a small victory!

What advice would you give to other women to overcome the unique challenges that women face in our industry?

I would encourage women to overcome unique challenges in our industry by creating a “webbed” support system—SEEK a mentor and pay it forward by BEING a mentor. Who would understand your unique situation more than another woman in business? I have three mentors I keep in touch with who give me solid advice and guidance. I do the same for new women in our industry and provide guidance. This has become an amazing network of strong women I constantly go back to—and we have forged a great friendship as well.

📌   Pro Tip

“I would encourage women to overcome unique challenges in our industry by creating a ‘webbed’ support system—SEEK a mentor and pay it forward by BEING a mentor.” 

What active steps do you take to lift up other women in our industry and/or in your community?

I usually try to take on the role of mentoring one to two women, whether in the real estate industry or outside of it. Someone who’s just starting out, or who I have something in common with—like a mom who is coming back to work and is struggling to find work/life balance, or someone who has two to three businesses that they need to streamline. I also seek out my mentors and keep in touch—this helps me to form a great network of women in business.

What suggestions would you make to men in leadership roles in our industry to do the same?

We live in a world where men and women alike achieve amazing feats. I would suggest that men in leadership roles keep up with the changing times, to foster an inclusive environment, and not allow biases and stereotypes to limit growth. 

How can women leverage our natural abilities for networking (or other abilities) to succeed in luxury real estate?

Women naturally congregate, chatting with other moms, sisters, friends, a cafe get-together, or via a book club or cooking class. There are many natural networking opportunities that men may not take advantage of on a regular basis. 

My first great opportunities in the luxury real estate market came from neighborhood moms who knew I had previously been in banking and trusted me with the sale of their home. One sale led to another referral, as all the moms in the area were close-knit and I was able to prove my sales skills one sale at a time.

Kayla Lee, Leader of the Kayla Lee Team at SERHANT.
Kayla Lee, Leader of the Kayla Lee Team at SERHANT.

“Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” was the theme for the UN’s commemoration of International Women’s Day this March.



Abigail Palanca, Leader of The Palanca Team at SERHANT.

Abigail Palanca

Abigail Palanca is the leader of The Abigail Palanca team, an all-women team at SERHANT. that’s focused on the Brooklyn market. Under Abby’s leadership, the team has closed over $245 million in total sales volume since its founding five years ago.

Do you have any advice for up & coming women in our industry to help them succeed & #BreakTheBias? 

You have to believe in yourself and believe not only that you can be successful—and will be—but that you deserve a seat at the table as much as any man. There is no substitute for hard work but there is also no substitute for confidence. In my career, my success has also come with some guilt—am I as much of a present parent or partner as I can be?—because as a woman, when you’re building a business and running a team, it often feels like you are always making a sacrifice. Be confident that you can do ALL THINGS—I think authentic belief in yourself is key. 

I also think it’s incredibly important that we as women champion one another. There is empowering energy created when we support one another. It’s important to remember that if one of us is behind, we are all behind. So, amplify together.

📌   Pro Tip

“You have to believe in yourself and believe not only that you can be successful—and will be—but that you deserve a seat at the table as much as any man.”

What active steps do you take to lift up other women in our industry and/or in your community? 

I love mentoring women in the industry. I lead an all-women team that I am incredibly proud of, and I make a conscious effort to really show them that they are limitless in all things. 

You should set lofty goals, you shouldn’t be afraid to call yourself an expert—be confident in your role, set your sights on what you want, and anything can be achieved if you are willing to put in the work. 

I also am cognizant of the challenges women—especially mothers—face in various stages of our lives. Very often our identity is tied to the role that we play, and we can lose ourselves. It’s important to always keep in mind that we are not just a mom, partner, wife, daughter—we can wear many hats at once and be great at all of them. 

What suggestions would you make to men in leadership roles in our industry to do the same? 

We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go. I once had a man in a senior leadership position ask me if my husband was the decision-maker when it came to making changes in my career. That question would never be asked of a man. To have closed over $100M in sales last year and have someone ask me if my husband approved of MY decisions in MY career felt like a slap in the face. Men in the industry need to recognize the strengths women possess and they need to truly start seeing and treating us as their equal. 

Abigail Palanca, Leader of The Palanca Team at SERHANT.
Abigail Palanca, Leader of The Palanca Team at SERHANT.

How can women leverage our natural abilities for networking (or other abilities) to succeed in luxury real estate? 

I find that most of my women colleagues can easily empathize with those around them, and I think it’s one of the reasons so many women are wildly successful in real estate. The power of human connection is so important. Clients want to be seen, heard, and understood. Women are pretty damn good at that!



Over to You

What steps can we take to successfully forge women’s equality and break unconscious bias in the real estate industry? Please share in the comments the ways that you’ve been successful and together, let’s help #BreakTheBias.

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