While women still make up less than 3% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, female executives are growing. These women have already reached unbelievable levels and you can expect more women to join them in coming years.

Top Female Executives
Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo
Born in India, Nooyi worked with Johnson & Johnson and Mettur Beardsell there. She moved to the United States to earn a master's degree from Yale in 1980. Her resume from that point includes strategy positions at the Boston Consulting Group, Motorola and Asea Brown Boveri. In 1994, she joined PepsiCo and was named president and CFO in 2001. Ever since, the company's annual revenues have risen 72%. In 2006, Nooyi became CEO of PepsiCo.

Oprah Winfrey, Chairman of Harpo
From one television show, Winfrey has built a media empire that includes magazines, radio channels and even television networks. In addition to being the first African-American female billionaire, she has been called "arguably the world's most influential woman" by CNN.

Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard
Whitman was named CEO of Hewlett-Packard, topping off a resume that includes growing eBay's revenues of roughly $4 million to about $8 billion, and running for governor of California. Her career has had a few controversies, but there's no denying that Whitman has a talent for the CEO's chair.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
In 2008, Mark Zuckerberg hired Sandberg from Google, where she was responsible for online advertising. She took a position with a company that was not profitable, and it was under her leadership that the decision to rely on ads for generating revenue was made. It was a decision that has led to the company's monumental growth and initial public offering.

Brenda Barnes, Chairman and CEO of Sara Lee
Barnes made headlines when she left her position as CEO of PepsiCo in 1997 in order to spend more time with her family. She didn't completely leave the world of business, she served as an interim president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. In 2004, Barnes became the COO of Sara Lee and has been rebuilding that company as she advanced in its organization.

Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO of Kraft Foods
Since her appointment as CEO of Kraft Foods in 2006, Rosenfeld has led a restructuring of the company, and she also oversaw spinning off sections of Kraft Foods. In 2011, Kraft Foods announced a plan to split into two companies, with Rosenfeld leading the one comprising the international snack brands.

The Bottom Line
While the women above have reached the top of the ladder, there are many rising stars following right behind them. Keep an eye on these three executives in years to come.

Jessica Mah, Co-Founder and CEO of inDinero
Mah launched her first company at the age of 12. Since then, she completed a degree in computer science at the University of California, Berkley and founded another company, inDinero; she hasn't even turned 22 yet.

Cari Sommer, Co-founder of Urban Interns
Before founding her own company, Sommer practiced law and worked with legal staffing firms. She saw a need for a better approach to finding interns and set out to solve the problem.

Dina Kaplan, Co-founder of Blip.tv
Kaplan was an Emmy-award winning television reporter before founding Blip.tv. The company provides a home to over 50,000 original shows and receives more than 90 million video viewers to its site each month.

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    5 Career-Killing Facebook Mistakes

    Facebook might be a great way to show off those cute pics from your vacation -- but your page isn’t so great if it hurts your career.
  2. Fundamental Analysis

    The Basics Of Corporate Structure

    CEOs, CFOs, presidents and vice presidents: learn how to tell the difference.
  3. Professionals

    What Accounts for One-Third of the Wage Gap

    Women who work full time still make less than men who have the same qualifications. One third of the pay gap may be due to gender bias and discrimination.
  4. Personal Finance

    Top Universities for Getting an MBA Abroad

    Going abroad for an MBA can add cachet when it comes time to get a job.
  5. Personal Finance

    Five Things To Avoid at Your Next Interview

    Do you have an interview coming up? Avoid these five mistakes and leave a lasting impression on your potential employer.
  6. Investing

    How Aliko Dangote Became the Richest African

    An overview of how Aliko Dangote turned a local commodities trading business into a billion-dollar conglomerate.
  7. Professionals

    Career Advice: Financial Planner Vs. Wealth Manager

    Understand the differences between a career in financial planning and wealth management, and identify which is better for you based on your goals and talents.
  8. Professionals

    4 Ways Companies Can Relieve Workplace Stress

    Workplace stress can cost companies tons of money in lost productivity and absenteeism. Some of that is out of their control, but often they are the cause.
  9. Personal Finance

    6 Reasons To Get Your MBA Abroad

    Given the number of high caliber business schools outside the United States, it may make sense to venture overseas for your MBA. Here's what you can gain.
  10. Investing News

    Austin Set to Rival Silicon Valley

    Over the years, Austin, Texas has lovingly embraced its quirky reputation with the slogan “Keep Austin Weird.” Today, the capital city is attracting several tech startups and investors, making ...
  1. Can I buy insurance to reduce unlimited liability in a partnership?

    Partnership insurance is actually quite common. Most of the time, partners buy insurance to safeguard against the possibility ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are the benefits of prorating expenses?

    When a person prorates expenses between personal and business expenses, he is able to capture the maximum amount of tax benefits ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the relationship between research and development and innovation?

    Although it's possible to achieve innovation without research and development and it's possible to conduct research and development ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does the notion of the American Dream influence the US economy?

    The notion of the American Dream influences the U.S. economy because it creates the driving force behind the free enterprise ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do venture capitalist investors view sustainable growth in a startup?

    Venture capitalist investors view sustainable growth in a startup as necessary when considering investing in it. Typically, ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do modern companies assess business risk?

    Before a business can assess or mitigate business risk, it must first identify probable or likely risks to its bottom line. ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!