It is often said that the glass ceiling in corporate boardrooms is still intact. But there are a few cracks appearing, here and there. Though the number of women CEOs at the helm of the largest companies is still lower than the number of those who are men by a large margin, their ranks continue to grow.
The following are 10 top women CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies. They are listed in terms of their company's Fortune 500 ranking in 2020, starting with the largest.
- Women represent a small fraction of CEOs at the largest corporations, although their ranks are growing.
- Six of the CEOs on this list assumed their roles within the past year.
- Women lead some of the largest corporations in a variety of industries, ranging from technology to finance.
1. Karen Lynch
CEO, CVS Health (CVS)
Lynch assumed the CEO role in February 2021. Previously, she was executive vice president of CVS Health and the president of Aetna, the corporation's insurance arm.
Lynch is the highest-ranking female CEO in the Fortune 500. CVS is the largest health provider in the world. Lynch is included on Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women in the World 2020 list.
2. Mary Barra
CEO, General Motors (GM)
Ranked as the second most powerful woman in business by Fortune magazine, Barra is the first female CEO of General Motors and pretty much the first for a major automobile company in the U.S. She slid into the driver’s seat at GM in January 2014, taking over from Daniel Akerson, the man credited for turning the company profitable after it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2011.
Barra is leading the charge for GM to transition to electric vehicles by 2035. She ranked second on Fortune's 2020 Most Powerful Women in Business list and sixth on Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women in the World 2020.
3. Rosalind Brewer
CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA)
Most recently COO of Starbucks, Brewer was named CEO of Walgreens in 2021. Brewer, who is only the third Black woman and one of 41 women to run a Fortune 500 company, is a seasoned executive in corporate America. Prior to Starbucks, which she joined in 2017, Brewer served as president and CEO of Sam’s Club. She was the first Black CEO of Sam's Club.
She was also the first woman and Black COO of Starbucks and helped to spearhead its diversity initiatives, including racial bias training. The company now ties executive pay to diversity targets. Brewer is included on Fortune's 2020 Most Powerful Women in Business and Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women in the World 2020 lists.
|Fortune 500 Rank|
|CEO||Company||Fortune 500 Rank in 2020|
|Karen Lynch||CVS Health||5|
|Mary Barra||General Motors||18|
|Rosalind Brewer||Walgreens Boots Alliance||19|
|Carol Tomé||United Parcel Service||43|
|Thasunda Brown Duckett||TIAA||81|
|Lisa Su||Advanced Micro Devices||448|
4. Gail Boudreaux
CEO, Anthem (ANTM)
Boudreaux was named CEO of Anthem, one of the largest health insurers in the U.S., in 2017. In the first two years of her tenure, the company's stock increased by 20%.
Previously, Boudreaux was CEO of UnitedHealthcare, the largest division within UnitedHealth Group. She ranks fourth on Fortune's 2020 Most Powerful Women in Business list and 10th on Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women in the World 2020.
5. Jane Fraser
CEO, Citigroup (C)
Fraser, the former head of consumer banking at Citigroup, was named CEO in February 2021. She is the first woman to head a major Wall Street bank.
Fraser, who joined Citi in 2004, has held several senior roles at the bank including chief executive of Citigroup Latin America, chief executive of the U.S. consumer and commercial banking and CitiMortgage, and chief executive of Citi's global private bank. She is listed on Fortune's 2020 Most Powerful Women in Business and Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women in the World 2020 lists.
6. Carol Tomé
CEO, United Parcel Service (UPS)
Tomé came out of retirement to take the helm of UPS in June 2020. She retired as CFO of Home Depot in 2019. Tomé is the first female CEO at UPS and the first who wasn't promoted from within.
During the first 100 days as CEO, she prioritized planning the logistics for the 2020 holiday season and ultimately the delivery of a COVID-19 vaccine. Throughout the pandemic, UPS has been an essential service. She is listed on Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women in the World 2020 and Fortune's 2020 Most Powerful Women in Business lists.
7. Thasunda Brown Duckett
Retirement and investment manager TIAA named Duckett CEO in February 2021. TIAA has more than $1 trillion in assets under management. Like Brewer, she is among a handful of Black women CEOs to lead a Fortune 500 company.
Duckett succeeded Roger W. Ferguson Jr., who was one of only five Black CEOs in the Fortune 500 before retiring. Prior to TIAA, she was CEO of Chase Consumer Banking. Duckett is among Fortune's 2020 Most Powerful Women in Business.
The percentage of Fortune 500 company CEOs who are women in 2021.
8. Safra Catz
CEO, Oracle (ORCL)
Former Oracle CFO Catz was appointed one of two company CEOs in 2014 after Lawrence Ellison stepped down from the position to assume the role of executive chair and chief technology officer. Following the death of co-CEO Mark Hurd, Catz became the sole CEO in 2019.
Under her leadership, the tech giant has pursued an aggressive acquisition strategy, completing more than 130 acquisitions. She is listed on Fortune's Most Powerful Women in Business 2020 list, and on both Forbes' 100 most Powerful Women in the World 2020 and America's Richest Self-Made Women lists.
9. Sonia Syngal
CEO, Gap (GPS)
Syngal was tapped as the CEO of Gap in March 2020, just as retailers were impacted by lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, she served as CEO of Old Navy, one of Gap's brands, a post she had held since 2016.
In the spring and summer of 2020, she led the charge to repurpose fabric to make face masks, which resulted in $130 million in sales—about 4% of the retailer's $3.3 billion in second-quarter sales. She is also included on Fortune's 2020 Most Powerful Women in Business list.
10. Lisa Su, Ph.D.
CEO, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
Dr. Su has held the semiconductor company's roles of CEO and president since 2014. Previously, she briefly served as AMD's chief operating officer and joined AMD in 2012 as senior vice president and general manager of its global business units.
Since taking the helm of the company, she has turned it around from near bankruptcy. In early 2021, AMD had a market capitalization of more than $100 billion. Dr. Su—who has bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—ranks second on Fortune's Businessperson of the Year 2020 list and is also included among Fortune's 2020 Most Powerful Women in Business.
Fortune. "Meet the New Highest-Ranking Female CEO in the Fortune 500." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Forbes. "#38 Karen Lynch." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Fortune. "Most Powerful Women, Mary Barra." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Fortune. "Most Powerful Women." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Forbes. "#6 Mary Barra." Accessed March 2, 2021.
Fortune. "New Walgreens CEO Roz Brewer will be the only Black woman chief executive in Fortune 500." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Forbes. "#48 Rosalind Brewer." March 3, 2021.
Forbes. "#10 Gail Boudreaux." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Reuters. "Citigroup's Fraser to be First Woman CEO of Wall Street Bank." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Forbes. "#23 Jane Fraser." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Forbes. "#11 Carol Tomé." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Fortune. "Thasunda Brown Duckett Will Become the Second Black Female CEO Currently in the Fortune 500." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Forbes. "#15 Safra Catz." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Fortune. "Safra Catz to Remain Sole Oracle CEO After Mark Hurd’s Death." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Fortune. "Sonia Syngal." Accessed March 3, 2021.
AMD. "AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su." Accessed March 3, 2021.
Fortune. "Businessperson of the Year 2020, Lisa Su." Accessed March 3, 2021.