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Stepping Aside for Joan Magill

We're guilty: Women in construction continue to be underrepresented

Joan Magill has let very little stand in her path.

Not patronizing men as she gained status and clout in Maryland’s real estate market.

Not a disgruntled ex-employee who once stole all her clients (she got them back).

Not a herd of buffalo that once gathered on one of her properties and somehow had to be relocated.

And not the fact that this magazine has never had a profile of a woman as its cover story.

As the face of the most recent US Builders Review edition, Magill appears dressed in all black, half seated, half lying down against an off-white background. She leans over her company’s 3D logo, looking directly at you.

Landmark moments like this aren’t supposed to be embarrassing. Yet they are when they occur so far after their expected arrival.

Magill deserves to be on the cover of a magazine. She’s an exceptional person, and we are honored for her to break our long-lasting drought.

Celebrating the first woman-as-cover-story is, in a way, ludicrous. It’s like declaring victory for landing on the moon—50 years from now. Or seeking credit for pouring a concrete foundation hundreds of years after concrete’s invention. Been there. Done that. A long, long time ago.

And yet there is a lesson to be learned and shared through our placement of Joan Magill’s story.

Too often, groups of people forestall moving forward because it requires admitting past wrongdoing.

Often, it happens after a major turning point, a quieter form of discrimination that exists out in the open. Schools were segregated long after slavery was abolished, and recent government studies show a trend back towards less diversity in schools. Today, women’s wages continue to trail men’s long after the landmark Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed to abolish such unfairness.

To put it in the terms of construction: How many projects would be completed sooner if every hitch was admitted to and addressed, then and there? How many flawed designs would be avoided if designers only shared their conundrums with their clients, unafraid of appearing weak or incompetent?

This point may seem trivial, but there’s plenty at stake.

Evidence abounds that the building industry must do more to realistically level the playing field not only for women, but for veterans and ethnic minority groups that struggle to compete in the lucrative construction industry. The fact that a woman has only once appeared on the cover of US Builders Review, a publication that identifies as the voice of the construction industry, reflects the male-dominated environment.

If you don’t believe us, consider what the government has to say.

In December 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency released a report that found among minority business enterprises, 86 percent struggle with networking barriers, 83 percent struggle to meet bonding requirements, 78 percent struggle to receive timely payments and 77 percent lack access to the capital necessary to take on the contracts they bid.

All of which indicates, despite decades of government incentives and requirements to include minority owned businesses, struggles abound. (And not just for the DBEs or MWBEs, as they’re known. Read about the struggles of contractors in meeting restrictive government requirements to hire DBEs and MWBEs here.)

Gender notwithstanding, Magill deserves to be on the cover of a magazine. She’s an exceptional person, and we are honored for her to break our long-lasting drought.

And she is a sharp reminder to never stop looking inwards. We hope our readers will do the same, and that they will turn to US Builders Review when they do.

Read Magill’s full story, and more, in our latest edition.

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LATEST EDITION

Fall 2017

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