WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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We've come a long way

A year ago, Linda Gooden took over Lockheed Martin's Information Systems and Global Services business, which pulls in more than $9 billion in annual revenue. Those are 2006 numbers.

This week Northrop Grumman named Linda Mills president of its $4 billion IT business.

Northrop and Lockheed now have women running very large and growing business units, units that are at the very heart of their businesses. But what struck me was that neither defense company uttered a comment about these leaders being women.

I think maybe the only reason I noticed it is because of the attention Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have received for being the first woman and first African-American, respectively, to make serious runs for the presidency.

For two women in the defense industry to rise to such high leadership positions and receive so little attention for it, says a lot about how far we've come as a society and an industry.

In fact, I hesitated to blog about this because I know I might catch some flak from people who will point to the successful women entrepreneurs and other female executives with large companies in the government contracting market. But any flak I catch only emphasizes the point I'm trying to make.

I also can't help but think about the leaders that will emerge from the 20-something-year-old military women in Iraq and Afghanistan. While officially not in combat roles, women are definitely serving and living in high-risk conditions.

As they transition to private sector jobs, I think we'll see a steady supply of women leaders emerge.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 31, 2008 at 7:22 PM


Reader Comments

Tue, Feb 5, 2008 Nick Wakeman VA

You have an interesting interpretation of the intent of my column. I wanted to praise the advance of women, but also to note that it isn't such a big deal anymore. Neither of these companies tried to score points by bragging that they had hired women to these positions.Both of these women are highly qualified for their jobs, regardless of gender.

Mon, Feb 4, 2008 Rob Bone

What you stated in your blog was very clear."But what struck me was that neither defense company uttered a comment about these leaders being women."I believe the words "...neither...uttered a comment..." are tantamount to a misrepresentation of the truth; also known as a lie. Especially since you are now telling me "...covered it well when it happened."After reading your article several times, it is still difficult for me to dechipher exactly what you were trying to say. I've come to the conclusion (which, I'm sure you will deny) that the article is a condescending attempt to praise the advance of women in the defense industry. (Maybe your boss is a newly-appointed woman and you need to score some points.) You even stated, "As they transition to private sector jobs, I think we'll see a steady supply of women leaders emerge." Do you "think" that a supply of men leaders will emerge?I'm surprised that you didn't also take the opportunity to offend African-Americans.Rob

Sat, Feb 2, 2008 Nick Wakeman VA

Thanks for your comment, but I guess I wasn't clear in my blog entry.I didn't mean for my blog to make it sound like I just realized that Linda Gooden had taken such a high ranking position at Lockheed Martin. We've know that and covered it well when it happened.I know we miss stories, but we didn't miss that one.

Fri, Feb 1, 2008 Rob Bone

Not sure where you were when Linda Gooden was appointed to her position, Mr. Wakeman, but it was prominently announced by several national publications. Any "flak" that you catch should not be due to any unintentional slight toward women, but because of your obvious inattention to detail.

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