5 Top Female CEOs


Becoming Chief Executive Officer for a Fortune 500 company is an extremely prestigious position. As the highest ranking officer, the CEO is ultimately responsible for the overall performance of the corporation. It is a high-risk, high-reward position. As of May 2012, only around 3.6% of Fortune 500 companies were run by women. More Fortune 500 companies continue to elect women CEOs to represent the organizations. Around 16% of American boards of directors hold women. Research by Catalyst, a nonprofit research organization advocating for women in business, found that between 2004 and 2008 Fortune 500 boards with the most amount of women outperformed return on sales by roughly 16% compared to companies with the least number of women.

Marissa Mayer

This ex-Google employee is the youngest and newest CEO on our list. At only 37, she has been in the tech industry for around 13 years. Mayer joined Google straight out of University as the first female engineer at Google. She has experienced rapid growth and change throughout the years as Google went from a young startup to one of the most valuable companies in the world. She left Google as the vice president of location and local services, a division responsible for products such as Google Maps. Her Yahoo! annual base salary is roughly $1 million. She already has a net worth of approximately $300 million.

Margaret "Meg" Whitman

With an impressive resume including positions at DreamWorks, Proctor & Gamble, and eBay, Whitman was elected as president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard in September 2011. Like Mayer, Whitman did not sign up for an easy task. HP has been struggling in recent years as smartphones and tablets have taken market share from traditional computers. Having run eBay through a time of explosive expansion, billionaire Whitman may be the right person to turn the company around.

Patricia Woertz

Having started her career as a CPA for Ernst & Ernst (now Ernst & Young), Woertz now runs Archer Daniels Midland, which is one of the largest agricultural processors in the world. In 2011, she earned roughly $11 million in total compensation. Only $1.3 million of that was her annual salary. Woertz was named president and CEO in April 2006 and previously served as the Executive Vice President of Chevron. She currently serves on the board of directors for Proctor & Gamble and the U.S.-China Business Council.

Indra Nooyi

Appointed president and CEO of PepsiCo in October 2006, Nooyi now runs one of the world's largest food and beverage brands. Prior to joining Pepsi in 1994, she worked for Motorola, Boston Consulting Group, and Johnson & Johnson. Her 2011 compensation exceeded $17 million, including a base salary of around $1.6 million. Apart from running Pepsi, Nooyi also finds time to serve as a member of seven other different boards.

Virginia Rometty

Rometty joined IBM in 1981 as a systems engineer. Over 30 years later, she was elected president and CEO of IBM. She is the first female CEO in the company's 100 year history. Rometty is most notably recognized for the strategic role she played in the integration of PricewaterhouseCoopers when IBM acquired the consulting firm in 2002. Her 2011 annual salary was $715,000, but she managed to receive over $8.3 million in total compensation.
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    Top Factors Preventing Workers From Being Promoted

    Many employees blame office politics when they fail to get promoted, but they may be sabotaging their own careers with these behaviors.
  2. Professionals

    Career Advice: Investment Banking Vs. Corporate Finance

    Read an in-depth review and comparison of a career in investment banking and a career in corporate finance, with advice about which one to choose.
  3. Investing

    Essential Tips on Making Your Hobby Your Career

    Here are some ways to turn what you love to do for fun into your job.
  4. Investing

    The Walter Schloss Approach to Investing

    A simple approach to buying that built one of the best track records in the history of Wall Street.
  5. Entrepreneurship

    START-UP NY: How a Tax-Free Zone Would Work

    START-UP NY is an initiative designed to attract companies to New York State by giving them 10 years of tax breaks. Sounds good, but is it a success?
  6. Personal Finance

    10 Habits of Successful People

    10 of the most-often cited habits of people who have enjoyed success in business and in life.
  7. Investing News

    Why Are So Few Women in Finance? It's Complicated

    The number of women entering the finance world continues to decline for a variety of reasons but a game-changing new nonprofit challenges the status quo.
  8. Investing

    How David Rubenstein Became a Billionaire

    How did David Rubenstein make his fortune?
  9. Economics

    Explaining Silo Mentality

    A silo mentality occurs when certain departments in an organization do not share information or knowledge with other departments.
  10. Professionals

    Career Advice: Investment Banking Vs. Equity Research

    Read an in-depth analysis of equity research and investment banking careers, and learn what it is like to work in either one of these high-paying fields.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  2. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
  3. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a firm’s total revenue and total cost is equal to zero.
  4. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
  5. Cost Of Funds

    The interest rate paid by financial institutions for the funds that they deploy in their business. The cost of funds is one ...
  6. Cost Accounting

    A type of accounting process that aims to capture a company's costs of production by assessing the input costs of each step ...
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!