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WOMEN HAVE COME A LONG WAY IN THIS industry over the past decade or two. FORUMs sister website, GlobeSt.com, reported on a recent study by Ferguson Partners that found REITs with at least one woman on their boards have had significantly higher shareholder returns than those without—2.6% higher over a three-year period and 3.6% over five years.

That's great news for women in this business. It also bodes well—relatively speaking—that 56% of REITs have a female board member, whereas just 11% of Fortune 500 companies do. There were advances broadly, though; in this year's Fortune 500 ranking, 18 firms had female CEOs, up from 12 in 2011 and a mere seven in 2002. Still, that's just 3.6% of the entire list. In the finance and insurance industries in particular, women make up 57.6% of the labor force, but only 18.4% of executive office positions and 3.7% of CEO posts.

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