Gator Engineer and First Female CEO in Defense, Reflects on What it Takes

In News by Loren Thompson

Linda Parker Hudson is a pioneer.  As President and Chief Executive Officer of BAE Systems, Inc. she is the first woman to ever head a major Pentagon contractor.  Before coming to BAE, she was the first female corporate officer and company president in the history of General Dynamics; the first female vice president of an operating company at Martin Marietta; and the first female manager at Ford Aerospace.

Being the first is not easy.  As Hudson puts it today, “there’s a burden with going first and feeling as though if you fail you might close the doors for others.”  But that hasn’t stopped Linda Hudson from being the only woman in the room for most of her 40-year career in the defense industry.  She battled hard to overcome bias and move up, accepting every promotion she was offered.  In doing so, her career became emblematic of the unprecedented opportunities that women were winning across American society.

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