Women at the top

Mary Barra
Mary Barra

The new head of General Motors, Mary Barra, tops Fortune 500’s first list as the most powerful women in global business.

Barra, who became chief executive of the largest US automaker, is “the first high-profile female CEO in the male-dominated auto industry”.

She “is not the type of boss who ever thought she’d be featured in Fortune, let alone sit atop the magazine’s Most Powerful Women in global business ranking” Fortune said, but she has shown “low-ego finesse and the courage to shake things up”.

As GM boss, Barra, 52, leads 212,000 employees working in 396 facilities in six continents. The company, which went through government-led bankruptcy reorganization in 2009, emerged from partial government ownership in late 2013.

“By pushing into new territories and inspiring women in their home countries, these globetrotters are, quite literally, taking on the world,” Fortune noted.

Number-two was Ginni Rometty, the 56-year-old chairman, CEO and president of IBM and in third place was Indra Nooyi, 58, at PepsiCo. Ranked between fifth and ninth, were Ellen Kullman, 58, of DuPont; Irene Rosenfeld, 60, at Mondelez International; Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson, 60; Hewlett-Packard chief Meg Whitman, 57; and Patricia Woertz, 60, at Archer Daniels Midland. The boss of Brazil’s oil giant Petrobras, Maria das Gracas Silva Foster, 60, was fourth on the list.

Missing from the top 10 were Sheryl Sandberg, 44, the chief financial officer of social media giant Facebook, Phebe Novakovic at defense and aerospace company General Dynamics, Safra Catz, at software firm Oracle, and Marissa Mayer, the 38-year-old head of Yahoo and Alison Cooper, the British CEO of Imperial Tobacco, but for all of this, these women have taken on the world of men.

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