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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The aerospace and defense industry is in the midst of a major expansion, but some say talent is a limiting factor.

The current A&D workforce is aging and some companies are struggling to fill key roles which will only get harder as the demand increases.

At this year’s Space and Missile Defense Symposium, organizers told News19 there’s more female representation than in the past. One aerospace engineer at the symposium is looking to inspire and advance the female presence in the industry, which is considered to be male-dominated.

“That’s been a problem for many, many years,” stated Deborah Fraley, Quantum Research Business Development Manager.

She is an aerospace engineer and has worked in the industry for about 40 years.

“About 20 years on the technical side and about 20 years on the business development side,” added Fraley.

Fraley currently works for Quantum Research, a defense contractor that provides services and products for several government agencies. She says in the 1970s when she was in college, she was one of two women in aerospace engineering.

“There are more now and over the years since I’ve been out of college which has been 40-plus years. There have been a lot more women in engineering but it’s still not enough,” replied Fraley.

Fraley is encouraging any female thinking about a career in the A&D industry to take the leap and go for it.

“It’s not like it used to be years ago when I was coming up. It really is a lot better now and I think most of the companies that are hiring folks look at your resume and see what you can or cannot do. They’re not looking at who you are or what you look like or how you’re built,” said Fraley.

There are several professional organizations that support women in the defense industry. The Women in Defense Tennessee Valley Chapter is located right here in Huntsville.