Forbes released its annual ranking of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel once again landing in the most coveted No. 1 spot, a title she’s held for 10 consecutive years. Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, ranked second, and U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris took ranked third. Harris will be the first female VP of the United States, as well as the first Black and Indian American to hold the role. While many of the names on the list fall within the political spectrum, we’re pleased to see numerous women from the entertainment, business and technology sectors, too. Women noticed on Forbes’ 17th edition ranking are making an impact across the globe.
“From our first-ever female vice president-elect to the incoming first female CEO of a Wall Street bank, the women on this year’s list are shaping history in unprecedented ways,” said Maggie McGrath, editor of ForbesWomen.
The “Power List” sees entries from 30 countries, with 38 CEOs, five entertainers, and 10 heads of state included in the mix.
Here’s a selection of who made the cut:
Politics, Economy & Technology
Angela Merkel – Chancellor of Germany
Merkel is now serving her fourth term as chancellor, continuing to lead Europe and steering the largest economy, Germany, back to health. Forbes cites an October 2020 poll in which 75% of adults in 14 European regions said they trusted Merkel more than any other leader in the region. She is a former quantum chemist and has served as the minister of the environment and nuclear safety. Merkel has been part of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) since 1990. She’s the first female and non-Catholic leader of the CDU, too. Merkel has campaigned for green energy, secured historic deals with Asian countries, and is often referred to as the de facto leader of the European Union.
Ursula von der Leyen – President of the European Commission
In July 2019, Ursula von der Leyen was appointed as the president of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union (EU). This is the first time a woman has served in this role, making her responsible for over 700 million Europeans. She previously served in Angela Merkel’s cabinet, and for the final six years of her tenure she was Germany’s defence minister. She’s been outspoken about anti-LGBTQ policies in Poland.
Melinda Gates – Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Jacinda Ardern – Prime Minister of New Zealand
Ardern has been vocal that strong leaders can be empathetic too. This year she implemented strict lockdown and quarantine mandates which helped to clear the first and second wave of the coronavirus in the country, a nation of five million people. She assumed the role of prime minister in 2017 when she was 37-years-old. Under her reign, Ardern has crackdown on foreign home buyers, banned single-use plastic bags, and planted 140 million trees. She was behind the extension of paid parental leave, too.
Susan Wojcicki – CEO of YouTube
As the longest-standing CEO of the company, Wojcicki has been instrumental in guiding YouTube’s supremacy—a platform with 2 billion monthly subscribers. She was hired as Google’s 16th employee back in 1999, and worked on things like AdSense, Google Analytics, Google Books and Google Images. She has run YouTube since 2014. Forbes estimates YouTube is worth approximately $90 billion.
Amy Hood – Executive Vice President and CFO of Microsoft
Hood has been the CFO of Microsoft since 2013. Since her being at Microsoft, the company’s stock has risen by nearly 300%, reports Forbes. She’s been part of securing over 57 deals including the 2018 $7.5 billion acquisition of GitHub, the software development platform. Hood has been instrumental in the growth of the company’s cloud computing division. Just recently, Microsoft announced it is among the companies using a new GitHub service to fund open-source projects, which we can assume has been coordinated with the help of Hood.
Entertainment and Business
In addition to policy, finance and tech professionals, there are a handful of talented entertainers and business professionals on the list.
As of December 9, 2020, Oprah’s net worth is $2.6 billion, according to Forbes. For 25 years she ran a successful talk show that mattered to millions, and the profits she made were reinvested to make $2 billion, again, according to Forbes. Also, the OWN cable channel, which she has a 25.5% portion of, produces a steady stream of original content that continues to reach audiences each day. She’s an ambassador for Weight Watchers, buying a 10% stake in the weight management company. Oprah is the highest-ranking entertainment name on this year’s list.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “On The Run II” stadium tour grossed approximately $5 million per night, bringing in more than $250 million for the heavyweight champion couple of music. For decades, Beyoncé has been a driving creative force in the world, releasing innovative conceptual approaches to her music (think: Lemonade). Billboard recently announced that Beyoncé has now tied Frank Sinatra as the artist with the most record of the year nominations in Grammy history.
At age 30, Taylor Swift is the youngest inductee on the list. After releasing the successful album, Lover, in 2019, Swift came back with another surprise in 2020, Folklore, which was written and produced straight through quarantine. It was 2020’s first album to sell 1 million units. She’s been vocal about the disadvantages faced in the music industry, pushed for the Equality Act, and is currently re-recording all of her back catalogue, taking back control of the music she created.
In 2012, Witherspoon started her own production company following years of unhappiness with the roles she was getting selected for. Her company, Pacific Standard, helped make Gone Girl and Wild, the latter of the two she starred in. She also received an Oscar nomination for her performance in Wild, if you recall. Since then, she has gone onto help steer female-focused programming, including Big Little Lies and Hello Sunshine, a series focusing on female stories. Laurene Powell Jobs, daughter of Steve Jobs, invested in Hello Sunshine this past February, reports Forbes.