Speed Reads

who run the military-industrial complex?

Nearly all of America's top defense contractors are run by women now

From the Defense Department to the manufacturers that supply it, the military-industrial complex is largely in women's hands now.

Four of America's top five defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing's defense wing, are headed by women, as are America's weapons-buying and nuclear oversight departments. And at all levels in national security, those women are changing how the traditionally male-dominated industry is run, Politico reports.

Within the past two years, women have come to run the Air Force and a number of other top defense sectors. That can largely be attributed to how the "national security community ... generally rewards high performers regardless of color or creed or gender," Politico notes. Another major contributor is the "steady growth" of women entering STEM fields, Politico says.

That doesn't mean a career in national security doesn't come without some "eye rolls," Rachel McCaffrey, head of the networking organization Women in Defense tells Politico. But being "underestimated" often turns women into "good negotiators," McCaffrey said. Karen Panetta, dean of graduate education at Tufts University's School of Engineering, also mentioned how a woman thought up "using pantyhose to keep sand out of sensitive equipment" in the desert.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson says all these skills come naturally. "If I ask everyone in this room to think about the most protective person you know in your life," most would "think about their moms," she told Congress last year, adding that "we are the protectors; that's what the military does." Read more at Politico.