5 Top Female CEOs

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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.

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