Women in Virginia REALTORS® History

March is Women’s History month in the United States, celebrating the vital role women have played throughout our nation’s history. Virginia REALTORS®100-year book takes a look at the many roles female REALTORS® have taken on throughout our association’s history. To give you a “sneak peek” of our limited-edition book, take a look at some interesting details about women’s work with Virginia REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS® throughout the years.


  • When Virginia REALTORS® was founded in 1920, it had an entirely male membership. Now, our most recent membership numbers show that half of our members are women.
  • The numbers are even larger at the national level. NAR’s 2019 Member Profile reveals that currently, 67% of REALTOR® members across America are female. This is up from 63% last year.
  • In 1984, Dorcas Helfant-Browning became the first female President of our association, then called the Virginia Association of REALTORS® (VAR). That year, only six other state-level REALTOR® associations had female Presidents.
  • Helfant-Browning went on to be elected as NAR’s first female President in 1992. Despite significant opposition, she made it her platform to meet as many REALTORS® across the country as possible. Clearly, her commitment and work ethic paid off.
  • In 1981, Joan D. Gifford of Norfolk was named the first female REALTOR® of the Year by VAR.

    Joan D. Gifford of Norfolk, 1981

  • Virginia REALTORS® current CEO, Terrie Suit, was appointed to the Virginia Real Estate Board in 1996. She later served Virginia’s 81st District as a delegate for nearly a decade. In 2011, she was appointed by Virginia’s governor to be Virginia’s first Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.

Virginia REALTORS® salutes the tens of thousands of women who have helped our association to flourish over the past century.

To read the complete chapter on this important topic, you’ll have to get a copy of the book! If you’re interested in securing a copy of the Virginia REALTORS® 100-year book, click here.