For eleven years, Forbes has released an annual audit of the foremost heads of state, entrepreneurs and CEOS, celebrity role models, billionaire activists, and pioneer philanthropists, all ranked by money, media momentum, spheres of influence and impact. Of the 100 most powerful women in the world, there are many who have risen to prominence in the tech sector. In a sector that has gained a reputation for being unwelcoming to women, these leaders have continued to succeed and excel in their fields. The following women demonstrate that the tech sector is a major source of power.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
Sandberg is powerful not only as a billionaire executive of one of the most influential companies in the world, but also as a voice for female empowerment in the workplace as the author of the 2013 best-selling book Lean In. Facebook COO and author of bestseller “Lean In,” Sheryl Sandberg is now asking men and women to “Lean In Together” to further gender equality at home and work.
Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube
Wojcicki was an early employee of Google after renting out her Menlo Park garage as its headquarters. In February 2014, Wojcicki moved from her post as consigliere for Google’s ads and commerce (some 90% of revenue) to become CEO of Google-owned YouTube, the world’s largest video platform.
Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, CEO, IBM
Under Rometty, IBM has been shifting its portfolio of businesses. She has led spending programs for data-analysis software and skills, cloud computing and Watson artificial intelligence technology. Rometty joined IBM at age 24 as a systems engineer in 1981 and became the company’s first female CEO in 2012.
Meg Whitman, CEO, HP
Whitman will lead the new HP Enterprise, which will handle business hardware, software and services after HP’s historic split into two publicly traded companies on November 1. Whitman has headed HP since 2011, but most of her fortune comes from her decade-long run as CEO of online auction house eBay, which she helped expand from 30 employees and $5 million in sales to more than 15,000 employees and $8 billion in revenue.
Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo!
Mayer has upgraded content and pursued an aggressive acquisition strategy aimed at boosting mobile revenues. In January 2014, Mayer announced plans to spin off Yahoo’s stake in Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba. Much of Mayer’s personal fortune comes from what she accumulated during her 13 years at Google, where she was among its earliest employees.
Safra Catz, Co-CEO, Oracle
Catz became co-CEO of software giant Oracle in September 2014. A 16-year vet of the company, the Israeli-born, Boston-raised executive is credited with spearheading its aggressive acquisition strategy. She played a role in closing over 85 acquisitions over the past five years helping to cement Oracle’s dominant position in the world of enterprise technology.
Angela Ahrendts, Senior VP, Apple
The former Burberry CEO, credited with turning around the ailing fashion house, started as SVP of retail and online stores at Apple this spring. She’s the first woman on Apple CEO Tim Cook’s executive team. She’s also the first person responsible for 400+ brick-and-mortar stores as well as online retail efforts.
Ursula Burns, CEO, Xerox
In her five years as CEO, Ursula Burns has made Xerox a viable and profitable company. She recently told shareholders that she would continue to sharpen the company’s technology-driven, services-led portfolio. Services represents 57% of the company’s total revenue and is expected to grow to two-thirds by 2017. Burns began her career at Xerox in 1980 as a summer intern and has climbed the ranks since.
Ruth Porat, CFO, Google
Porat recently accepted the CFO position at Google. After joining Morgan Stanley in 1987, Porat survived the stock market crash untouched. During crisis bailouts in 2008 Porat advised the U.S. Treasury and NY Fed on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG. Porat left the bank after one of its strongest quarters in recent years.
Lucy Peng, CEO, Small & Micro Financial Services Group Alibaba
Peng heads the group’s fast expanding stand-alone financial services unit, which serves about 615 million users. Ant Financial, formerly known as Small and Micro Financial Services Company, serves mostly small borrowers and depositors who possess extraordinary strength when combined. Peng was a cofounder of Alibaba and continues to serve as its chief people officer.
Women are making strides in the tech industry; however, more needs to be done to increase the number of women in technology. It’s imperative to increase the engagement of girls with STEM education both in formal and informal environments.
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