It's old news that the gender gap is closing and that stereotypes are being broken down when it comes to women working in traditionally male-dominated industries. For some time now, women have been proving their worth outside of the 'home', and not just in an office environment.

More and more women are happy donning hard hats and overalls and this year marks the centenary year of the Women's Royal Navy. One surefire way of women ensuring there is no gender discrimination in the workplace though is by setting up their own business.

Over the past two decades, the number of women-owned businesses has grown at a faster rate than those owned by men and research by BNP Paribas Wealth Management found that companies helmed by women actually produce 13% higher revenues on average.

It's no different in the property industry. While women represent only 15% of the property and construction industry workforce, the number of female property business owners is on the rise, and not just within interior design and industry service provision.

We know from experience that an increasing number of women are building buy-to-let portfolios single-handedly, and well. Take 'Secret Millionaire' Caroline Marsh for example. She was featured on the prime time Channel 4 television programme in 2008 after building her property portfolio with the help of Platinum Property Partners.

Since being established in 2007, many other women have joined Platinum Property Partners and followed in Caroline's footsteps. And it's not the elements of property that most people assume women prefer (such as house hunting, decorating and admin) that our female franchise partners enjoy the most.

Many of them like getting their hands dirty during refurbishment, which can be big projects that involve complete reconfiguration of a property and extensive building work. As a result, they need to be fully aware of Construction, Design and Management (CDM) regulations and know their way around a toolbox.

Kay Collier-Jeremy, who joined in 2013, says she is happiest when in her jeans and t-shirt during refurbishments. She's completed four property conversions and said: "It can be hard work physically, but it's great fun."

Holly Yates from Derbyshire is a full-time mum as well as a successful property business owner and effectively project manages refurbishments in between nursery runs. "I particularly enjoy the refurbishments; transforming the properties from whatever they were before to the finished product," said Holly. "I've also been able to fit the business into my daily routine. If Cora is at home, she'll join me in the office and pretend to play along - she'd even tried to assist with furniture assembly!"

Coming from a career in fashion, you would assume that Louise Thompson would find it daunting working in a male-dominated industry, but she thinks that being a female actually gives her an edge. "I quite like it because it makes me more memorable," she said. "It can feel uncomfortable being in a minority, but it's the knowledge that counts."

And Valerie Highton believes that there are lot of skills that women have that men don't that can be an advantage in the property industry: "You can take the skills you have learned in life, in your work, or even as a stay at home mum, as they are all transferable. If you're organised and diligent, then you'll be one step ahead."

Our Head Office team is also 87% female, so we're definitely celebrating International Women's Day today!

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