November 28, 2020         
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New York, NY  – Forbes today announced its annual ranking of the World’s Most Powerful Women, with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel claiming the #1 spot for the fourth consecutive year. According to Forbes, today’s women in power are rising to leadership positions in business, government and philanthropy by making daring and unconventional moves. Gone are the days of women feeling they must stick with one employer and patiently wait for promotions. The marked characteristic Forbes identified among highly ambitious women is that they are moving across companies and industries, making big leaps with each change, and repositioning themselves for opportunities that allow them to gain a breadth of experienceFDIC ChairmanSheila Bair comes in at #2 after a year of being tested in unprecedented ways by the United States’ deepening economic crisis, followed by Indra Nooyi (#3) of PepsiCo, and Anglo American Chief Executive Cynthia Carroll (#4)Singapore’s first lady and Chief Executive of Temasek, Ho Ching (#5) remains high on the list despite a bumpy year at Singapore’s flagship sovereign wealth fund.


First Lady Michelle Obama debuts on the list this year at #40 alongside many notable newcomers to high-profile leadership positions. In the United States, this includes Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (#56); recently sworn-in Supreme Court JusticeSonia Sotomayor (#54); Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (#51); and SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro (#55). Also new to the list this year are Prime Minister of Bangladesh Hasina Wajed (#78); United Nations High Commissioner for Human RightsNavanethem Pillay (#63) and Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir (#74), who is faced with rescuing a nation in financial collapse.


Forbes also highlights women leaders to watch, including Sallie Krawcheck (#87), who a year after being forced out of Citigroup, is back on Wall Street as the Chief Executive for Global Wealth Management for Bank of America, and Chanda Kochhar (#20), who became the first woman boss of ICICI, India’s second-largest bank, in May. The issue also features a cover story on Carol Bartz (#12), in her first major profile since taking the reins at Yahoo, who now faces pressure to remake the Internet giant following its recently announced deal with Microsoft.


Other highlights:

  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (#36)

  • Oprah Winfrey (#41)

  • Philanthropist Melinda Gates (#34)

  • Queen Elizabeth II (#42)

  • Speaker of the House, U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (#35)

  • Drew Faust (#82), President, Harvard University

  • Queen Rania (#75) of Jordan

Forbes’ rankings of the World’s Most Powerful Women are based on a combination of economic impact, media reach, and career accomplishments. The Top Ten include:






Angela Merkel



Sheila Bair

Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp./U.S.


Indra Nooyi

Chief executive, PepsiCo/U.S.


Cynthia Carroll

Chief executive, Anglo American/U.K.


Ho Ching

Chief executive, Temasek Holdings/Singapore


Irene Rosenfeld

Chief executive, Kraft Foods/U.S.


Ellen Kullman

Chief executive, DuPont/U.S.


Angela Braly

Chief executive, WellPoint/U.S.


Anne Lauvergeon

Chief executive, Areva/France


Lynn Elsenhans

Chief executive, Sunoco/U.S.


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