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Celebrating Women: the Top Five Female CEOs

Of those companies on the Fortune 1,000 list, only 35 of them currently have female CEOs. That represents a mere 3.5 percent of the total, and speaks to the continued gender disparities present

Of those companies on the Fortune 1,000 list, only 35 of them currently have female CEOs. That represents a mere 3.5 percent of the total, and speaks to the continued gender disparities present in the business world. However, things are in the process of changing. Last October, the number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies reached an all-time record, and the solid performance of the majority of those women in those positions should help the next generation continue to break through the glass ceiling. Here are five of the most prominent and successful female CEOs in America.

Meg Whitman, President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)


While Meg Whitman may be best remembered in California for her failed run for Governor, it’s a shame that her successes in the field of business may be overlooked. Whitman is a native of Long Island, NY and attended Princeton and Harvard Business School. Beginning her career as a brand manager for Procter & Gamble (PG) in 1979, she soon climbed the corporate ladder at several companies before landing at eBay (EBAY) in 1998 when the company only had 30 employees. Under her guidance, eBay was transformed into the $45 billion public company it is today. Meg resigned from eBay in 2007 and pursued her career in politics, but she returned to the business world in January of 2011 when she accepted the position as CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, President and CEO of IBM (IBM)

While Meg Whitman might be the most famous female CEO in the country, the one at the helm of the biggest company is Ginni Rometty, the president and CEO of IBM. Ginni attended Northwestern University and graduated in 1979. Then began at IBM in 1981 as a systems engineer in the company’s Detroit office. Ginni’s spent over 30 years with IBM and her ascension to the role of CEO, announced on October 25 of last year, represents a major shift in the landscape for the tech industry. As the President and CEO of the fifth most valuable company in the world, Ginni Rometty is one of the most powerful women in the history of the business world.

Patricia A. Woertz, Chairwoman and CEO of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)

Woertz is a Pennsylvania native who attended Penn State University and graduating in 1974. Woertz would then go on to work as an executive at several companies before landing at Chevron (CVX). There, she rose to the position of Executive Vice President before leaving to pursue CEO opportunities elsewhere. The move proved fruitful as Woertz beat out four other candidates to win the CEO position at conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland in 2006.

Indra K. Nooyi, Chairwoman and CEO of PepsiCo. (PEP)

Indra Nooyi was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India in 1955, and she completed much of her education in India before coming to the United States in 1978 to study at the Yale School of Management.  Nooyi would work in various strategy positions before landing at PepsiCo in 1994. After seven short years, she was promoted to President and CFO in 2001. Since starting as CFO, PepsiCo’s annual revenues have risen 72 percent. In 2007, she became only the fifth CEO in PepsiCo’s history.

Irene Rosenfeld, Chairwoman and CEO of Kraft (KFT)

Irene Rosenfeld was born in Westbury, NY in 1953 and got a degree in Psychology from Cornell before eventually getting a PhD in Marketing and Statistics and a Masters of Science in Business. Rosenfeld has spent 30 years in the food and beverage industry, including a stint as the CEO of Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo. Rosenfeld would be appointed CEO of Kraft in 2006 and has made major changes since. Her move to split Kraft into two arms, with the snack division separating from the North American grocery brands will leave Rosenfeld in charge of the snack foods company while Tony Vernon will take over the grocery company.

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