Marlen Rodriguez knows the opportunity the title insurance industry provides women looking for a career. Last fall, the industry veteran launched Miami-based New Dawn Title Group to serve Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The new endeavor came after she previously ran her own company for over a decade, served as president of a privately-owned affiliated title company and worked for a national underwriter.
Along the way, she’s hired and trained women in the 2000s who are now thriving and leading successful title companies today.
“When I first opened my own company in 1999, one of the things that that I loved offering jobs to single mothers—women and people in general who couldn’t afford to go get a higher education,” Rodriguez said. “The ability to pay it forward like that and help the next generation is one of the greatest reasons to get into the business. The title industry is a great it’s a great career where one doesn’t have to go through the traditional college and get their bachelor’s or master’s degree, and still make a really good living.”
Women comprise more than 70% of the title industry workforce. That equates to more than 100,000 women working in the industry. It’s a significant percentage and important to be recognized as the country celebrates Women’s History Month in March. It started as National Woman’s Day, following a meeting of socialists and suffragists in Manhattan on Feb. 28, 1909. In March 1910, German activist Clara Zetkin suggested that International Women’s Day be recognized as an international holiday. In March 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared that March 8 was officially the start of National Women’s History Week. It became a month-long celebration in 1987.
Like others in the industry, Eileen LaPlante, vice president at Star Title Agency in Michigan, has seen the industry evolve over the years. When she started working in the industry in the late 1990s in Traverse County, Mich., LaPlante said there were about 15 title examiners. Only two were women. A decade later, that percentage flipped.
“I’ve always kind of thought it was a right brain left brain thing,” she said. “Women are, I think, more familiar with the multitasking unit of our day-to-day experiences. We’re used to having children and grandchildren needing all kinds of different things at once. Title insurance can kind of be like a romper room some days.”
Elizabeth Wysong Berg NTP, national agency vice president for education and training for Fidelity National Financial Family of Companies, says the industry’s focus on customer service plays into women’s skillset. She said most often, women are also the caretakers at home and juggling many to keep the family running, like getting children to and from school, washing clothes, packing snacks and making sure everyone gets to after-school activities. Many women naturally gravitate to that caretaker role in the title industry.
“That’s what we’re doing for our customers: we are in a caretaker role. If a closer is closing, they are taking care of their customer and making sure that they are served,” Wysong Berg said. “An examiner is doing the same thing. They’re making sure that we have taken care of our customer, and they’re going to have a good title and be ready to close.”
Nicole Timpanaro, CEO of Fortune Title Agency in New Jersey, agreed that women are a natural fit for work environments that require organization and efficiency. While running a title company, the flexibility has allowed her to support her family, attend school events and games. “It just allows me to manage my life better,” Timpanaro said.
“If you would have asked me if I would have recommended title insurance to a woman as a career before 2008, I probably would have told you no,” she said. “But after being in the industry and working in it for so many years and falling in love with it, I think it’s actually a perfect career for a woman.”
Andi Bolin has worked in the title industry for 15 years, believes that women’s empathetic nature “allows us to relate and transmit those relationships with clients.”
Bolin attributes her success to raising her hand and getting involved.
“You have to be the captain of your own ship,” she said. “I volunteered for things when I first joined ALTA that I had no idea how to do or what it meant, or what that entailed. But I would rather volunteer and fail than not volunteer with the apprehension of not being able to do something in the future. That’s going to make me a little bit more successful, or at least put me in places where I can learn more.”
“We have to tell this story more loudly on a bigger platform. You can create an amazing career, if you just put in the time, the effort, and the energy,” Bolin added.
Scarlett First, a title agent for Kansas-based Frontier Secured Title Co., sees her ability to climb the leadership ladder. “The sky’s the limit in the industry. You can go as far as you want to go,” she added.
She said the flexibility to work 15 hours one day or work a couple the next if you have a sick child is part of the attraction of the industry. The digital movement now allows more people to do much of the work from home. First says she’s seen the industry evolve and become more female-centric.
“Thirty years ago, it was mostly men and three-piece suits,” First said. “I think women are starting to break the barrier and the floodgates are starting to open.”
Wendy Ethen, president of Guaranty Commercial Title in Minnesota, said her friends used to joke that she didn’t employ any males until the las few years. Her company now has three men on the 25-person staff. Ethen agrees that women’s ability to multi-task pays dividends in this industry.
“There are a lot of great opportunities for women and also a really good alternate legal career for women lawyers,” she said. “The complexity of the transactions that you work on is an opportunity to grow. We have people who pick a field and grow into that. I have one woman who’s working on solar transactions and has done a lot of research. I do primarily affordable housing. So, there are all kinds of ways to specialize and to grow your career.”
Deborah Bailey, manager member of the Georgia-based law firm Bailey Helms Legal LLC, dreamt of a career that allowed her to interact with consumers and solve problems every day. She says women are attracted to the industry because they have lots of opportunity to problem solve.
“There are lots of problems that can arise in a transaction,” she said. “We naturally are always listening and seeking opportunities to solve those problems for our consumers.”
Bailey says there are leadership opportunities in the land title industry, adding there are few industries where you can decide one day to start a business. Women can get started just by going after their dreams, according to Bailey. The sky’s the limit wherever you want to go in the title industry.
“I’m a role model for women. I’m a role model for children. And I do the best to reflect the best of my community.”