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Kay Granger says women are making their mark in defense industry

March 19, 2014

U.S. Rep. Kay Granger has a theory about why Lockheed Martin Aeronautics has made progress fixing problems in its F-35 program: There are now some women in charge.

In an opinion piece she wrote for, the national magazine’s website, the former Fort Worth mayor — who is now vice-chair of the House Defense Appropriations committee in Washington — points to the work of Marillyn Hewson, who took over as Lockheed’s CEO last year, and Lorraine Martin, who she appointed as the F-35’s program manager in Fort Worth, in repairing damaged relations with the Pentagon over cost and technical issues.

“There was a real lack of partnering that changed almost immediately when Marillyn took over,” Granger wrote. “The conversation changed, as did the attitude. Decisions were made that had been delayed for months.

“Women tend to be problem solvers by nature. In many cases, that trait becomes more important than having a particular title, their name on the door or the highest salary.”

Granger noted that since Hewson and Martin took over, “criticism of the program has been significantly reduced. These women achieved this outcome by bringing authenticity to the table and rebuilding the program’s credibility. Rather than tucking away the company’s previous errors, they acknowledged them.”

Pentagon officials, who were critical of Lockheed’s management in past years, have voiced optimism in recent months, but there are still problems to overcome. Most recently, ground testing of the Marine Corps version of the multi-force fighter jet was halted after inspectors found cracks forming in the bulkheads.

Granger’s piece, titled “How Women are Reshaping the Defense Industry,” notes that General Dynamics and BAE Systems now also have female CEOs, and that women leaders are “melting away the defense industry’s male-dominated image.”

She also singled out Della Williams, who founded Williams Pyro (now Williams R.D.M.) with her husband in the 1960s and took over the manufacturer after his death in 1996, for overcoming preconceptions about her gender.