List of Female CEOs
The position of Chief Executive Officer is arguably the most sought-after role in the business world today. With amongst the highest salaries in the workforce and the prestige of being figureheads of their respective companies, CEOs wield tremendous power and influence. They steer the company culture, shape the mission of the organisation, and play a crucial role in determining how the business is run.
Historically, the ranks of this top executive position have been dominated by men. Women must contend with many more obstacles in their rise through the corporate ranks than their male counterparts. The disparity is so severe, in fact, that amongst the Fortune 500 list of top companies in 2016, there are just 21 female CEOs compared with 479 men. Yet, in a global workforce where institutionalised sexism drives income inequality at nearly every level of the economy and men consistently out-earn their female counterparts, the women who have fought their way to the highest echelons of business are exceptional.
In 2015, it was reported that within the 100 largest companies (by revenue) in the United States, the eight female CEOs out-earned the 92 men, bringing in an average $22.7 million against the average $14.9 million earned by the men.
Let’s take a closer look at the remarkable CEOs running some of the country’s most influential corporations:
Mary T. Barra (General Motors)
- Started working at GM when she was 18
- Earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at General Motors Institute
- Awarded a fellowship to attend Stanford Business School
- Earned MBA from Stanford in 1990
- Featured on cover of Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ in 2014
Virginia M. Rometty (IBM)
- Earned a dual Bachelors degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University, where she graduated with high honours.
- President of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority
- Earned nearly $20 million in 2015
- Named in Fortune 500’s ‘50 Most Powerful Women in Business’ for ten years running, ranking #1 for the past three years.
- She was only the third female member ever accepted to the Augusta National Golf Club
Indra K. Nooyi (PepsiCo)
- Earned B.S. in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics from Madras Christian College
- Earned an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta
- Earned a Masters in Public and Private Management from Yale
- Consistently ranks amongst the Forbes and Fortune 500 lists of the world’s most powerful women.
- Her net worth is estimated at over $144 million
Marillyn A. Hewson (Lockheed Martin)
- Earned a B.S. in Business Administration and an M.A. in Economics from the University of Alabama
- Attended Executive Development Programs at Harvard and Colombia
- Serves on Board of Directors for Sandia National Laboratories and DuPont
- Named the 20th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2015
- Earned $20.2 million in 2015 alone.
Safra A. Catz (Oracle)
- Earned a B.S. at the Wharton School of Business
- Earned a J.D. from University of Pennsylvania Law School, attending Harvard Law in her senior year
- She is a current lecturer in accounting at the Stanford School of Business
- Ranked by Fortune as the 12th most powerful woman in business in 2009
- For seven years she served as a director of HSBC Group
- The current highest-earning female CEO in the world, she brought in $53.2 million in 2015
Phebe N. Novakovic (General Dynamics)
- Earned a bachelor’s degree from Smith College
- Earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business
- Former intelligence officer for the CIA
- Worked for the US Department of Defense from 1997 to 2001
- Earned $19 million in 2014 and $20.4 million in 2015
Irene B. Rosenfeld (Mondelez International)
- Earned a BA in Psychology, a Masters in Business, and a PhD in Marketing and Statistics from Cornell University
- Ranked 14th on Forbes “Most Powerful Women in the World” list in 2014
- Earned $18.3 million in 2015 alone
Lynn J. Good (Duke Energy)
- Earned a BS in Systems Analysis and in Accounting from Miami University
- Longtime member of the board of the Cincinnati Ballet
- Former partner at the prestigious accounting firm, Arthur Anderson
- Current Chairman, President and CEO of one of the largest energy companies in the US
- Fortune ranks her the 11th “Most Powerful Women in Business” and Forbes lists her amongst "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women."
Ursula M. Burns (Xerox)
- Raised by a single mother in the New York City housing projects
- She became the first black-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500company
- Earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from NYU and a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
- In 2014, Forbes ranked her the 22nd most powerful woman in the world.
- Has served on the board of directors at Exxon Mobil Corporation, American Express, Boston Scientific, FIRST, National Association of Manufacturers, University of Rochester, the MIT Corporation, the Rochester Business Alliance, and the RUMP Group.
Vicki A. Hollub (Occidental Petroleum)
- Earned a BS in Mineral Engineering from University of Alabama
- She became the first female CEO of a major US oil company
- Has worked for Occidental for over 33 years
- The company’s shares have risen 13% in 2106, the year she took over as CEO
The unjust truth of the matter is that it is simply much harder to excel in the business world as a woman than it is a man, which makes the accomplishments of these outstanding CEOs all the more impressive. They have overcome tremendous odds and surmounted countless obstacles to get where they are today, and we can all learn much from their excellent examples.