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Women Break Through Defense-Contracting Glass Ceiling

Image: Pavel Losevsky
Image: Pavel Losevsky

Defense contracting may have one of the most “macho” of professional images. But the women at the heads of Washington, D.C.-area contractors, such as Linda Hudson of BAE Systems, might as well have driven a tank through this particular glass ceiling.

The Washington Post reports a growing number of women are “rising to the upper echelons” of defense contracting, a previously male-dominated industry.

Linda Hudson took over as president of BAE Systems last year, becoming one of the highest-ranking and highest-profile women in the field. She was prominently featured in GovConExec magazine last year, and was named one of the 20 people to watch in 2010 by ExecutiveBiz.

She is joined by Phebe N. Novakovic, executive vice president for marine systems at General Dynamics; Maryanne R. Lavan, recently named Lockheed Martin’s first female general counsel; as well as a host of high-level women who head operating division at Lockheed.

The women told The Post they have seen women climb to the highest reaches of power across government and industry, citing Gen. Ann Dunwoody, the first four-star general in the U.S. military and Letitia A. Long, the first woman to lead a major U.S. intelligence agency: the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

“For the first 10 or 15 years of my career, it was pretty much textbook discrimination in the workplace,” Hudson told The Post. “I think we’ve come a long way in the last 38 years.”

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