10 of the Most Powerful Women in the World Today

Published January 14th, 2020 - 07:04 GMT

Fearless, Fierce and Fabulous, these women are all the motivation you need.

Daring to dream, achieve and strive for what has never done before, these women (in no particular order) are exemplary, showing an entire generation that nothing is impossible.

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Angela Merkel

1. Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany in 2005 and is serving her fourth term. In November 2018, Merkel stepped down as leader of the Christian Democratic Union and announced she wouldn't seek another term as chancellor in 2021. Merkel remains the de facto leader of Europe, leading the region's largest economy after steering Germany through financial crisis and back to growth. Her leadership is marked by her steely reserve, from standing up to Donald Trump to allowing more than a million Syrian refugees into Germany. For now, she leads a coalition government unpopular with voters, facing continuing storms from Brexit and growing anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe. The big question that the public is now asking is who and what will come after Merkel's time in office comes to an end.

Christine Lagarde

2. Christine Lagarde became the first woman to head the European Central Bank on November 1, 2019. The election puts her in charge of European monetary policy during a time of geopolitical uncertainty and slowing economic growth in the region. In her debut speech as ECB president, she spoke of the need to focus on multilateral trade while also growing domestic opportunities. From 2011 until mid-2019, Lagarde ran the International Monetary Fund that works to ensure the stability of the global monetary system. She was the first woman to hold that position. On the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 bank collapse, Lagarde pointed to "groupthink" in the male-dominated industry and called for gender reform.

Nancy Pelosi

3. Nancy Pelosi is the 52nd Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The role makes her the highest-ranking elected woman in the country and the second-in-line for the presidency. She started her third term as Speaker in 2019; she previously held the position from 2007 to 2011. In 2019, she initiated the fourth-ever impeachment proceedings in U.S. history against President Donald Trump. In 2013, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Seneca Falls.

Ursula von der Leyen

4. Ursula von der Leyen was appointed president of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, in July 2019. She is the first woman to serve in the role, which is responsible for legislation affecting more than 700 million Europeans. From 2005 until 2019, von der Leyen served in Angela Merkel's cabinet--the longest tenure of any cabinet member. For the last six years of her time in the cabinet, she was Germany's defense minister. Under von der Leyen, the Commission is now comprised of 11 female commissioners and 15 male.

Mary Barra

5. Mary Barra GM's CEO since 2014, Barra has invested billions in electric vehicles, self-driving cars and a ride-share service called Maven. In November 2019, GM sued Fiat Chrysler over an alleged bribery scheme in bargaining with autoworker unions. Having earned $21.9 million in 2018, Barra has the highest compensation of any leader of a Detroit Big Three automaker. GM ranked No. 1 on the 2018 Global Report on Gender Equality. It was one of only two global businesses that have no gender pay gap.

Melinda Gates

6. Melinda Gates maintains her position as most powerful woman in philanthropy as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Founded in 2000, it's the world's largest private charitable foundation with a $40 billion trust endowment. She's increasingly visible in shaping foundation strategy, solving tough global challenges from education and poverty to contraception and sanitation. As part of the foundation's mission to help all people lead healthy, productive lives, she has devoted much of her work to women's and girls' rights In her next chapter, Gates' mission is to close the funding gap for female founders, through her investment and incubation company, Pivotal Ventures.

Abigail Johnson

7. Abigail Johnson has served as CEO of Fidelity Investments since 2014, when she took over for her father, and has been chairman since 2016. Her grandfather, Edward Johnson II, founded the Boston-based mutual fund giant in 1946. She owns an estimated 24.5% stake of the firm, which has nearly $2.7 trillion in managed assets. Johnson has embraced cryptocurrencies and, in 2018, Fidelity launched a platform that allows institutional investors to trade bitcoin and ether. She worked summers at Fidelity through college and joined full-time as an analyst in 1988 after receiving a Harvard M.B.A.

Ana Patricia Botín

8. Ana Patricia Botín became chair of the company in 2014, after the sudden death of her father, Emilio. She pulled off a coup in 2017 when Banco Santander acquired failing Banco Popular (BP) for 1 euro to become Spain's largest bank. In the face of political unrest, she has championed fintech and focused on entrepreneurs, backing small enterprise and women-owned businesses. She launched Santander X to support university entrepreneurship and helped create the country's first multi-sector blockchain-based platform. The bank's $200 million InnoVentures private equity fund has seeded disruptors such as Digital Asset Holdings, Ripple and Kabbage.

Ginni Rometty

9. Ginni Rometty A 36-year veteran of the iconic tech company, Rometty has led IBM's transition to a data company. Today, half of IBM's $79.1 billion 2017 revenue comes from the emerging, high-value segments of IT vs its legacy software products. She has put cognitive computing at the center of its strategy for the future and made massive bets on blockchain and quantum computing. In October 2018, IBM purchased Red Hat for $34 billion, placing the company in a position to compete with Amazon and Microsoft in cloud computing. But despite this high-priced deal, IBM's stock has fallen 20% in 2018 and posted weak third-quarter results. Ongoing efforts to keep women in the workforce include extended parental leave, a breastmilk delivery program and returnships.

Marillyn Hewson

10. Marillyn Hewson CEO of Lockheed Martin since 2013, Hewson has deftly steered the defense company's position at the forefront of security, aerospace and technology. The F-35 fighter jet program and other development that address modern military needs have helped increase market value to nearly $100 billion. In 2017, the company pulled in $53 billion in sales, a majority from the U.S. government. Under Hewson's watch, Lockheed's stock has surged more than 300%. To remain on the forefront of innovation, Lockheed Martin is developing a supersonic aircraft that breaks the sound barrier without a sonic boom.

Angela Merkel
Christine Lagarde
Nancy Pelosi
Ursula von der Leyen
Mary Barra
Melinda Gates
Abigail Johnson
Ana Patricia Botín
Ginni Rometty
Marillyn Hewson
Angela Merkel
1. Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany in 2005 and is serving her fourth term. In November 2018, Merkel stepped down as leader of the Christian Democratic Union and announced she wouldn't seek another term as chancellor in 2021. Merkel remains the de facto leader of Europe, leading the region's largest economy after steering Germany through financial crisis and back to growth. Her leadership is marked by her steely reserve, from standing up to Donald Trump to allowing more than a million Syrian refugees into Germany. For now, she leads a coalition government unpopular with voters, facing continuing storms from Brexit and growing anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe. The big question that the public is now asking is who and what will come after Merkel's time in office comes to an end.
Christine Lagarde
2. Christine Lagarde became the first woman to head the European Central Bank on November 1, 2019. The election puts her in charge of European monetary policy during a time of geopolitical uncertainty and slowing economic growth in the region. In her debut speech as ECB president, she spoke of the need to focus on multilateral trade while also growing domestic opportunities. From 2011 until mid-2019, Lagarde ran the International Monetary Fund that works to ensure the stability of the global monetary system. She was the first woman to hold that position. On the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 bank collapse, Lagarde pointed to "groupthink" in the male-dominated industry and called for gender reform.
Nancy Pelosi
3. Nancy Pelosi is the 52nd Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The role makes her the highest-ranking elected woman in the country and the second-in-line for the presidency. She started her third term as Speaker in 2019; she previously held the position from 2007 to 2011. In 2019, she initiated the fourth-ever impeachment proceedings in U.S. history against President Donald Trump. In 2013, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Seneca Falls.
Ursula von der Leyen
4. Ursula von der Leyen was appointed president of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, in July 2019. She is the first woman to serve in the role, which is responsible for legislation affecting more than 700 million Europeans. From 2005 until 2019, von der Leyen served in Angela Merkel's cabinet--the longest tenure of any cabinet member. For the last six years of her time in the cabinet, she was Germany's defense minister. Under von der Leyen, the Commission is now comprised of 11 female commissioners and 15 male.
Mary Barra
5. Mary Barra GM's CEO since 2014, Barra has invested billions in electric vehicles, self-driving cars and a ride-share service called Maven. In November 2019, GM sued Fiat Chrysler over an alleged bribery scheme in bargaining with autoworker unions. Having earned $21.9 million in 2018, Barra has the highest compensation of any leader of a Detroit Big Three automaker. GM ranked No. 1 on the 2018 Global Report on Gender Equality. It was one of only two global businesses that have no gender pay gap.
Melinda Gates
6. Melinda Gates maintains her position as most powerful woman in philanthropy as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Founded in 2000, it's the world's largest private charitable foundation with a $40 billion trust endowment. She's increasingly visible in shaping foundation strategy, solving tough global challenges from education and poverty to contraception and sanitation. As part of the foundation's mission to help all people lead healthy, productive lives, she has devoted much of her work to women's and girls' rights In her next chapter, Gates' mission is to close the funding gap for female founders, through her investment and incubation company, Pivotal Ventures.
Abigail Johnson
7. Abigail Johnson has served as CEO of Fidelity Investments since 2014, when she took over for her father, and has been chairman since 2016. Her grandfather, Edward Johnson II, founded the Boston-based mutual fund giant in 1946. She owns an estimated 24.5% stake of the firm, which has nearly $2.7 trillion in managed assets. Johnson has embraced cryptocurrencies and, in 2018, Fidelity launched a platform that allows institutional investors to trade bitcoin and ether. She worked summers at Fidelity through college and joined full-time as an analyst in 1988 after receiving a Harvard M.B.A.
Ana Patricia Botín
8. Ana Patricia Botín became chair of the company in 2014, after the sudden death of her father, Emilio. She pulled off a coup in 2017 when Banco Santander acquired failing Banco Popular (BP) for 1 euro to become Spain's largest bank. In the face of political unrest, she has championed fintech and focused on entrepreneurs, backing small enterprise and women-owned businesses. She launched Santander X to support university entrepreneurship and helped create the country's first multi-sector blockchain-based platform. The bank's $200 million InnoVentures private equity fund has seeded disruptors such as Digital Asset Holdings, Ripple and Kabbage.
Ginni Rometty
9. Ginni Rometty A 36-year veteran of the iconic tech company, Rometty has led IBM's transition to a data company. Today, half of IBM's $79.1 billion 2017 revenue comes from the emerging, high-value segments of IT vs its legacy software products. She has put cognitive computing at the center of its strategy for the future and made massive bets on blockchain and quantum computing. In October 2018, IBM purchased Red Hat for $34 billion, placing the company in a position to compete with Amazon and Microsoft in cloud computing. But despite this high-priced deal, IBM's stock has fallen 20% in 2018 and posted weak third-quarter results. Ongoing efforts to keep women in the workforce include extended parental leave, a breastmilk delivery program and returnships.
Marillyn Hewson
10. Marillyn Hewson CEO of Lockheed Martin since 2013, Hewson has deftly steered the defense company's position at the forefront of security, aerospace and technology. The F-35 fighter jet program and other development that address modern military needs have helped increase market value to nearly $100 billion. In 2017, the company pulled in $53 billion in sales, a majority from the U.S. government. Under Hewson's watch, Lockheed's stock has surged more than 300%. To remain on the forefront of innovation, Lockheed Martin is developing a supersonic aircraft that breaks the sound barrier without a sonic boom.