Our special focus in the March issue is on women in affordable housing. We’ve been thinking about doing this edition for a few years now. It’s not a new concept, of course. Fortune magazine presents a list of the most powerful women in business, and our sister publication multifamily executive recently highlighted 10 of the most powerful women in the apartment industry.
Still, publishing a special feature like this one can be a catch-22. Some women may not want to be singled out—even when it’s in a positive light—and it could rub some men the wrong way. Worse: The final product could come off as a token gesture.
So why do it? Because it’s an opportunity to look at a real issue—the serious lack of women in top positions in real estate—and showcase some notable women who are developing and financing affordable housing in a major way.
But this story isn’t meant just to fete women; it’s also intended to share what they and their firms are doing and show why they’re important to the larger industry. They’re significant on their own merits.
Several of our 10 subjects in this month’s feature noted that women provide diversity to corporations. This is important in a field that serves a large number of women. In 2014, 16.1% of women in the United States were in poverty, compared with 13.4% of men. The poverty rate for families with a female householder—no husband present—was a big 30.6% (4.8 million families) in 2014, compared with 15.7% (1 million) for families with a male householder.
I’ve always thought AHF was pretty good at including women in its pages. Out of curiosity, I looked back at our cover subjects. Women were on three of our eight regular-issue covers last year. In 2014, women were on two of them. Maybe that’s too few. Maybe that’s about right, considering more men are in real estate and in leadership roles. Whatever the answer, the advancement of women in affordable housing is definitely something to think about—starting now.