Women in real estate finance, a small but steadily growing group, now have a place online to go to strengthen their network and exchange ideas and information about the industry, answering increasing calls for such a platform within the market.

On Tuesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association launched a new networking platform for women in the real estate-finance industry, mPower, which stands for MBA Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend their Reach.

Marcia Davies, chief operating officer at the Mortgage Bankers Association, explained that last year the MBA started hosting its first networking events for women in real estate finance. “It was informal in nature since I wanted to see the level of interest to share information,” she said.

Well, there was definitely interest, and it’s only growing.

“What started out as a hunch and was tested with a few starting events, we realized very quickly was filling a void,” said Davies. “And the positive feedback we have gotten since clearly indicated that we not only are filing a void, but we also struck a nerve and need that’s out there.”

Davies stated that mPower is designed to recognize and promote the rise of women in the real estate finance industry, as well as the overall workforce.

According to the MBA, members can access the platform through this newly created webpage. Once someone joins the networking group, they can receive notices of MBA’s women’s events, gain access to its resources and information, and join their peers in a private, member-only online community.

Davies added that the MBA is launching the website now, before next week’s 2016 MBA Annual Convention & Expo in Boston, to raise awareness.

Davies explained that through the website women can know immediately where the other events are and who the speakers are, as well as have immediate access to some of the recent data and studies that have come out.

At MBA Annual in Boston, the MBA is hosting an event titled “Women in Mortgage Banking Networking Event Featuring MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski.

According to Davies, more than 350 women have already indicated that they are going to come.

Davies added that an important factor in this launch is that it’s not just women that are supporting this; it’s the industry as well.

Davies said that one of the biggest advocates for this is the president and CEO of the MBA, David Stevens, who wanted to make sure the MBA took a strong formal approach.

“He was the one who saw the trend, and during one of our meetings said,  ‘I really want you take this to the next level,’” Davies said.

“Addressing the needs of this important segment of our workforce is essential to our industry’s success,” said Stevens. “MBA can be the catalyst for creating a strong, diverse network of women in our industry.”

Looking back at the early stages of this, at the MBA's Secondary Market conference in May, the MBA dedicated a lunch on one of the conference days to the women in real estate finance, featuring Davies and Kim Azzarelli, chair and co-founder of Cornell Law School's Avon Global Center for Women and Justice and partner at Seneca Point Global.

Even before all this became more formalized, there was a lot of interest from the industry, as the room that day was filled to the brim with women eager to learn more from each other and connect.

For more on that session, click here.

Davies said she hopes that a lot of women will be able to connect with other women in the industry that they might not have been able to meet otherwise.

“Our goal is to provide information, events and a networking platform to help women maximize their overall potential,” Davies said.

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