Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen’s advice for coping with the Trump administration’s policies is to not to sit around and “mope.”
“You can’t just have that extra glass of wine and not get out of bed in the morning because it’s all so horrible,” she said. “You have to come up with ways in which you can advance the agenda of women.”
Glen was the keynote speaker at the New York Women’s Forum on Wednesday, a program held by Real Estate Weekly, EisnerAmper and Commercial Real Estate Women of New York. Glen was one of 16 women connected to the real estate industry who spoke at the forum, and the discussion turned to national politics during her brief address.
The deputy mayor cited the lack of women in the president’s cabinet (only two out of sixteen) but touted the city for having women in several high-ranking positions. She credited former Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development Vicki Been and current Commissioner Maria Torres Springer as the “true architects” of the city’s housing plan. She also noted the city’s paid sick and family leave policies, as well as a new law that will prevent most employers from asking about their salary history.
(Though, a recent New York Times story noted that 33 high-level officials — 22 of whom are women — have left Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration since he took office in 2014. One reason for the departures, as noted in the story, was the mayor’s managing style.)
Glen observed that the real estate industry, along with finance, has a reputation of being “a boy’s club.” She urged attendees to surround themselves with “strong, ambitious women” and to work to change the companies for which they work. In the January issue, The Real Deal dove into how, in many ways, commercial real estate has failed to create a welcoming environment for women and minorities. In many cases, the barrier to entry is prohibitively high, due in large part to discriminatory practices surrounding access to credit.
Glen said even women who’ve managed to climb the corporate ladder often feel like they need to continually prove themselves and justify their presence at important meetings.
“You could be a junior project manager walking into that meeting and still have that sense of dread or focus because you’re a woman,” she said.
She also briefly mentioned the protesters gathered outside the New York Bar Association’s building on Wednesday, where the forum was being held. The group, the Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network, held up posters featuring Glen’s image that said: “Wanted for Displacement.” Glen has recently been the target of other protests criticizing her close ties to for-profit developers and Goldman Sachs.
“You can have people out front holding pictures of you chanting that you’re the world’s worst person when all you’re trying to do is make the city better,” she said. “Being an ambitious woman in this space is even more difficult. It means taking more punches and quite literally being accused of throwing them. And it means that every time you do succeed, you have to get up and fight again and again and again. You don’t get a lot of credits for your wins.”