The World’s Most Powerful Women

Published 2 months ago
By Forbes | MOIRA FORBES AND MAGGIE MCGRATH WITH NICOLETTE JONES AND ERIKA BURHO
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Bidvest Chief Executive Officer designate Mpumi Madisa (Photo by Gallo Images / Business Day / Freddy Mavunda), World Trade Organisation Director General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images), President of Tanzania Samia Suluhu Hassan (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) and Mo Abudu (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for HollyShort Film Festival )

In the early months of 2023, the ranks of the world’s most powerful women thinned. Between January and April, political leaders Sanna Marin, Jacinda Ardern and Nicola Sturgeon either lost or relinquished their jobs overseeing Finland, New Zealand and Scotland. Susan Wojcicki stepped down as YouTube CEO after nine years at the helm. So did Martina Merz, the chief executive of German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp. Every one of them was replaced by a man.

“You’re not always going to be followed by a woman just because a woman had been in the position,” Hillary Rodham Clinton told Forbes in March. “We still have work to do to [put] women in a position to step into leadership roles.”

When the seasons changed to summer, the story of female power started heating up. In May, Robyn Grew became the first woman to lead the Man Group, a hedge fund with $161 billion in assets and whose name reflects the gender composition of its industry. U.S. Army veteran Debra Crew took the helm of alcohol giant Diageo in June, becoming one of just a handful of female CEOs at the 100 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange. And of course, the triumvirate of Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Barbie sparked billions of dollars of consumer spending. Their influence on consumers was so powerful that Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell addressed it in a July press conference.

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As a result of that influence, that trio, including Barbie, have spots on the 2023 list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Swift makes her highest-ever appearance at No. 5, while Beyoncé jumped to No. 36, up from 80 in 2022; Crew debuts at No. 79 and Grew comes in at No. 83. Barbie takes the No. 100 spot, the position allocated every year to a figure that’s not the traditional image of power but one who has, nonetheless, come to define a year.

As ever, the 2023 Power List was determined by four main metrics: money, media, impact and spheres of influence. For political leaders, we weighed gross domestic products and populations; for corporate chiefs, revenues, valuations and employee counts were critical. Media mentions and social reach were analyzed for all. The result: 100 women who are shaping the policies, products and political fights that define our world.

Those fights include reproductive autonomy for women in America; girls’ access to education in Afghanistan and personal rights in Iran; protection against gender-based violence in conflict zones like Ukraine and Gaza; and actionable climate policy that protects the health and well-being of women in lower-income and agriculture-based economies.

“We’re not far enough there anywhere in the world yet,” billionaire philanthropist Melinda French Gates told Forbes. Her prescription for 2024 and beyond is, therefore, a simple one. “It’s when you get women far enough into seats of power in multiple places in the world that things start to change.”

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—Maggie McGrath

The Full List

RankNameAgeLocationCategory
1Ursula von der Leyen65BelgiumPolitics & Policy
2Christine Lagarde67GermanyPolitics & Policy
3Kamala Harris59USAPolitics & Policy
4Giorgia Meloni46ItalyPolitics & Policy
5Taylor Swift33USAMedia & Entertainment
6Karen Lynch59USABusiness
7Jane Fraser56USAFinance
8Abigail Johnson61USAFinance
9Mary Barra61USABusiness
10Melinda French Gates           59USAPhilanthropy
11Julie Sweet56USABusiness
12Kristalina Georgieva70USAPolitics & Policy
13MacKenzie Scott53USAPhilanthropy
14Gail Boudreaux63USABusiness
15Emma Walmsley 54The United KingdomBusiness
16Ruth Porat66USATechnology
17Safra Catz62USATechnology
18Ana Patricia Botín63SpainFinance
19Carol Tomé66USABusiness
20Sandy Ran Xu46ChinaBusiness
21Kathryn McLay49USABusiness
22Sarah London43USABusiness
23Amy Hood51USATechnology
24Tarciana Paula Gomes Medeiros45BrazilFinance
25Laurene Powell Jobs & family60USAPhilanthropy
26Catherine MacGregor51FranceBusiness
27Janet Yellen77USAPolitics & Policy
28Gwynne Shotwell60USATechnology
29Phebe Novakovic66USABusiness
30Tsai Ing-wen67TaiwanPolitics & Policy
31Oprah Winfrey69USAMedia & Entertainment
32Nirmala Sitharaman64IndiaPolitics & Policy
33Ho Ching70SingaporeFinance
34Thasunda Brown Duckett50USAFinance
35Marianne Lake, Jennifer Piepszak              USAFinance
36Beyoncé Knowles42USAMedia & Entertainment
37Shari Redstone69USAMedia & Entertainment
38Kathy Warden52USABusiness
39Dana Walden59USAMedia & Entertainment
40Amanda Blanc56The United KingdomBusiness
41Susan Li38USATechnology
42Margherita Della Valle58USABusiness
43Adena Friedman54USAFinance
44Mary Callahan Erdoes56USAFinance
45Lynn Martin47USAFinance
46Sheikh Hasina Wajed76BangladeshPolitics & Policy
47Sri Mulyani Indrawati61IndonesiaPolitics & Policy
48Gina Rinehart69AustraliaBusiness
49Lisa Su54USATechnology
50Vicki Hollub64USABusiness
51Nicke Widyawati55IndonesiaBusiness
52Shemara Wikramanayake61AustraliaFinance
53Tricia Griffith59USABusiness
54Jessica Tan46ChinaBusiness
55Judy Faulkner80USATechnology
56Tokiko Shimizu58JapanFinance
57Donna Langley55USAMedia & Entertainment
58Jennifer Salke59USAMedia & Entertainment
59Wang Laichun56ChinaTechnology
60Roshni Nadar Malhotra42IndiaTechnology
61Jenny Johnson59USAFinance
62Yuriko Koike71JapanPolitics & Policy
63Hana Al RostamaniUnited Arab EmiratesFinance
64Suzanne Scott57USAMedia & Entertainment
65Lynn Good64USABusiness
66Sinead Gorman46The United KingdomBusiness
67Bela Bajaria52USAMedia & Entertainment
68Belén Garijo63GermanyBusiness
69Melanie Kreis52GermanyBusiness
70Soma Mondal60IndiaBusiness
71Paula SantilliMexicoBusiness
72Mette Frederiksen46DenmarkPolitics & Policy
73Joey Wat52ChinaBusiness
74Rihanna35USAMedia & Entertainment
75Linda Thomas-Greenfield71USAPolitics & Policy
76Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw70IndiaBusiness
77Güler Sabanci68TurkeyBusiness
78Trudy Shan Dai47ChinaBusiness
79Debra Crew52The United KingdomBusiness
80Robyn Denholm60AustrailiaBusiness
81Solina Chau61Hong KongPhilanthropy
82Lee Boo-jin53South KoreaBusiness
83Robyn Grew54The United KingdomFinance
84Zuzana Caputova50SlovakiaPolitics & Policy
85Mary Meeker64USAFinance
86Makiko Ono63JapanBusiness
87Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala69NigeriaPolitics & Policy
88Mpumi Madisa44South AfricaBusiness
89Melanie Perkins36AustrailiaBusiness
90Dominique Senequier70FranceFinance
91Raja Easa Al GurgUnited Arab EmiratesBusiness
92Julia Gillard62The United KingdomPhilanthropy
93Samia Suluhu Hassan63TanzaniaPolitics & Policy
94Xiomara Castro64HondurasPolitics & Policy
95Kirsten Green52USAFinance
96Choi Soo-yeon42South KoreaBusiness
97Jenny Lee       51SingaporeFinance
98Mo Abudu59NigeriaMedia & Entertainment
99Mia Mottley58BarbadosPolitics & Policy
100Barbie64USAMedia & Entertainment