The top 10 most powerful women in the world

NEW YORK: Forbes has released its list of world’s most powerful women for 2016. Here we present to you the 10 most powerful women in the world by highlighting their work, experience and influence:

1. Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel has been named the most powerful woman in the world for the tenth time. According to Forbes her power stems from the fact that no other woman runs an economy as large as Germany’s, which happens to be the fifth-largest in the world. While she controls the €2.9 trillion GDP (US$3.3 trillion) of Germany, she also “hugely influences” the €14.3 trillion ($16.2 trillion) economy of the European Union.

Bio: Born Angela Dorothea Kasner in 1954 in Hamburg, West Germany. She grew up in the countryside north of East Berlin after her father moved the family across the frontier in 1954 just a few weeks after she was born. She studied physics at the University of Leipzig, earning a doctorate in 1978, and later worked as a chemist at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry, Academy of Sciences from 1978 to 1990. She is married to Joachim Sauer; she has no children but Sauer has two sons from a previous marriage.

Political life: After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Merkel joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) political party and soon after was appointed to Helmut Kohl’s cabinet as minister for women and youth and later served as minister for the environment and nuclear safety. Following Kohl’s defeat in the 1998 general election, she was named secretary-general of the CDU. In 2000, she was chosen party leader, but lost the CDU candidacy for chancellor to Edmund Stoiber in 2002. In the 2005 election, Merkel narrowly defeated Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, winning by just three seats and was declared Germany’s first female chancellor. She was elected to a second term in 2009.

Leadership: Merkel guided her country through a recession with stimulus packages and subsidies for companies that cut hours for workers, with Germany entering 2016 with a budget surplus of 12.1 billion euros ($13.1 billion) and an AAA rating from credit rating agencies. She used her power against ISIS, breaking the post-Nazi-era taboo of direct involvement in military actions by sending arms to Kurdish fighters. But her latest act may be the boldest. By opening Germany’s borders to over 1 million immigrants from Syria and other Muslim countries in the last several years. But not everyone has expressed approval for her open-door policy towards refugees.

2. Hillary Clinton

The second most powerful woman on the list is Hillary Clinton. Forbes said of Clinton, that should she win the American presidency in November, she is likely to move to the top spot.

Bio: Hillary Clinton was born in Chicago and grew up in a middle-class home in Park Ridge, a suburb of Chicago. Her dad, Hugh, was a World War II Navy veteran and a small-business owner who designed, printed, and sold drapes. Hillary helped with the family business whenever she could. After graduating high school, Hillary attended Wellesley College, where she became more involved with social justice activism. By the time she graduated, Hillary had become a prominent student leader. After college, Hillary enrolled in Yale Law School where she met Bill Clinton.

Political life: As first lady from 1992-2000, Hillary worked with Republicans and Democrats to help create the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health coverage to more than 8 million children and has helped cut the uninsured rate for children in half. She also worked for women’s right and led a delegation to Beijing to attend the U.N Fourth World Conference on Women. In 2000, Hillary was the first woman to be elected to the U.S senate from New York and in 2009 became the Secretary of State. Hilary Clinton became the first woman nominated for president by a major US party for 2016 election.

Leadership: During Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, Hillary emerged as a dynamic and was named to head the Task Force on National Health Reform (1993). The controversial commission produced a complicated plan which never came to the floor of either house. It was abandoned in September 1994. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Hillary pushed the Bush administration to secure $20 billion to rebuild New York and fought to provide health care for responders who were at Ground Zero. Hillary worked across the aisle to expand TRICARE, giving members of the Reserves and National Guard and their families better access to health care. As Secretary of State she built a coalition for tough new sanctions against Iran that brought them to the negotiating table and she brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that ended a war and protected Israel’s security.  Clinton used her position to make women’s rights and human rights a central talking point of U.S. initiatives. She became one of the most travelled secretaries of state in American history, and promoted the use of social media to convey the country’s positions. She also led U.S. diplomatic efforts in connection to the Arab Spring and military intervention in Libya. On June 2016, Clinton was elected as presidential nominee for the Democratic Party and the first woman in the United States’ 240-year history “to top the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party.

3. Janet Yellen 

Janet Yellen is a leading American economist, served as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors since 2010 until becoming the first woman to become chair of the board in 2014.

Bio: Janet Yellen was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1946, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1967. She then went to Yale University, where she received her Ph.D. in 1971. After teaching at Harvard University, Yellen worked at the Federal Reserve from 1977 to 1978, and then became a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1997 to 1999, she served on the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and in 2004, she became president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In 2010, Yellen was selected to serve as vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. President Barack Obama nominated her to become the board’s chairman in October 2013.

Leadership: Janet Yellen has become known for steadiness, not inscrutability: She indicated throughout 2015 that she would raise interest rates, and last December, for the first time since June 2006, interest rates rose. Reminding markets again in late May that the Fed’s job is to suppress unemployment and inflation, she stated, simply, that rates may rise again in July. Performing neither as wizard nor innovator, instead Yellen asserts her power by way of plain sentences and easy logic — making it easy to forget that the Yale- and Brown-educated economist is the world’s top market-mover.

4. Melinda Gates

Bio: Melinda Gates was born on August 15, 1964, in Dallas, Texas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke University and an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. She took a job at Microsoft Corporation in 1987 and married her boss, Bill Gates, in 1994. That year, she and her husband co-founded what was later to become the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Philanthropy: In 1994, Melinda and Bill Gates, along with Bill’s father, started the William H. Gates Foundation. In 1999 the couple combined the William H. Gates Foundation with two of their other charitable organizations, the Gates Library Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation. They renamed the newly blended charity the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2006, a friend of Bill’s, wealthy investor Warren Buffett, made a landmark donation of $30 billion to the foundation. Melinda then restructured the organization into three departments: worldwide health, global development, and U.S. community and education. One of the foundation’s primary global health objectives has been to develop prevention strategies, vaccines and treatments for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation officially restated its mission as: “improving equity in four areas: global health, education, access to digital information via public libraries, and support for at-risk families in Washington State and Oregon.” In 2012 Melinda pledged $560 million toward improving access to contraception for women in third-world countries.

5. Mary Barra

Bio: Mary was born in Waterford, Michigan U.S. She studied electrical engineering at Kettering University and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree. She obtained a Master’s in Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business

Achievements/Leadership: Barra started working for General Motors at the age of 18 as a co-op student and subsequently held a variety of engineering and administrative positions, including being manager of the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant. Ms. Barra was elected Chairman of the GM Board of Directors on January 4, 2016. She has served as CEO of GM since January 15, 2014, when she also became a member of GM’s Board. This latest promotion is no surprise: First-quarter earnings are up, on the heels of record profits in 2015. Barra, a 36-year veteran of GM, credits this growth in part to strong domestic sales, alongside steady performance in Europe and new growth in China’s SUV and luxury markets

Prior to becoming CEO, Ms. Barra served as Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain since August 2013. She served as Senior Vice President, Global Product Development, from 2011 to 2013; Vice President, Global Human Resources, from 2009 to 2011; and Vice President, Global Manufacturing Engineering, from 2008 to 2009. Mary Barra emerged as the third highest paid executive in financial year 2016. She was awarded $36.3 million last fiscal.

6. Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde was reelected earlier this year to a second five-year term heading the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the organization that serves as economic advisor and backstop for 188 countries.

Bio:Christine Lagarde wasborn in Paris in 1956. She completed high school in Le Havre and attended Holton Arms School in Bethesda (Maryland, USA). She then graduated from law school at University Paris X, and obtained a Master’s degree from the Political Science Institute in Aix en Provence.

Leadership: Christine Lagarde joined the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie as an associate, specializing in Labor, Anti-trust, and Mergers & Acquisitions. A member of the Executive Committee of the Firm in 1995, Christine Lagarde became the Chairman of the Global Executive Committee of Baker & McKenzie in 1999, and subsequently Chairman of the Global Strategic Committee in 2004.

Christine Lagarde joined the French government in June 2005 as Minister for Foreign Trade. After a brief stint as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, in June 2007 she became the first woman to hold the post of Finance and Economy Minister of a G-7 country. From July to December 2008, she also chaired the ECOFIN Council, which brings together Economics and Finance Ministers of the European Union, and helped foster international policies related to financial supervision, regulation, and strengthening global economic governance. On July 5, 2011, Christine Lagarde became the eleventh Managing Director of the IMF, and the first woman to hold that position. On February 19, 2016, the IMF Executive Board selected her to serve as IMF Managing Director for a second five-year term starting on July 5, 2016.

7. Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and best-selling author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Bio: Sheryl Sandberg was born in Washington, D.C., in 1969. She went to Harvard for her bachelor’s degree in economics and worked at the World Bank after graduating summa cum laude. She then attended Harvard Business School and in 1995 she earned her M.B.A.

Leadership: After working for the World Bank, Sheryl Sandberg worked in the U.S. Department of the Treasury during the Clinton administration. When the Republicans swept the Democrats out of office in November 2000, Sandberg moved to Silicon Valley and worked for Google for seven years. She worked as Google’s vice president of global online sales & operations and was responsible for managing online sales of advertising and publishing products, Google Book Search and consumer products. She then moved to Facebook, where she has been COO since 2008 and has helped boost revenues at Facebook 66-fold.

For her duties, Sandberg has been richly rewarded, and she made her way onto the billionaires’ list in early 2014, based on her stake in Facebook, which made its initial public stock offering in 2012, the same year that Sandberg became the first female member of the company’s board of directors.

8. Susan Wojcicki

Susan has headed up YouTube, the world’s largest video platform, since early 2014. In 2006, Wojcicki urged her bosses at Google to purchase the video site, which it did in a $1.65 billion deal. Now YouTube has more than 1 billion unique visitors a month and is valued at an estimated $70 billion.

Bio: Susan was born on July 1968 in Santa Clara California. Wojcicki studied history and literature at Harvard University and graduated with honors in 1990. She also received her Master’s of Science in economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1993 and a Master’s in Business Administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1998.

Achievements: Ms. Susan D. Wojcicki has been Chief Executive Officer of YouTube, LLC at Alphabet Inc. since February 2014. Ms. Wojcicki served as Senior Vice President of Ads & Commerce at Google Inc. from April 2011 to 2014. She served as Head of Advertising at Google Inc. She served as Vice President of Product Management at Google Inc. and was responsible for the product management of AdSense as well as Google Book Search, Google Video and the syndication of Google products to partners worldwide. Ms. Wojcicki joined joined Google in 1999 as the 16th hire and the company’s first marketing manager and was the force behind Google doodles. She also product-managed the licensing of web search, site search and enterprise to Google’s first customers, and was responsible for the initial development of Google Image Search. Prior to Google, she worked at Intel, and served as a management consultant at both Bain & Company and R.B. Webber & Company. Earlier, she served as a Product Manager and Developer for the educational software company MagicQuest. She has been an Independent Director at, inc. since December 5, 2014. She served as a Director of HomeAway, Inc. from 2011 to December 13, 2012.

9. Meg Whitman

Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard for four years, heads up $52 billion (sales) Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which sells servers, software and more.

Bio: Meg Whitman was born on August 4, 1956, in Cold Spring Harbour, Long Island, New York. Whitman enrolled at Princeton University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. She then took on the MBA program at Harvard Business School, graduating in 1979.

Whitman served as an executive in The Walt Disney Company, where she was Vice President of Strategic Planning throughout the 1980s. In the 1990s, Whitman served as an executive for DreamWorks, Procter & Gamble, and Hasbro. She later became CEO of eBay an online auction giant. In 2009 Whitman, a conservative Republican, announced her plans to run for governor of California in the 2010 election but was defeated by Jerry Brown. In 2011 she became the CEO of computer giant Hewlett-Packard.

Achievements:  Under Meg Whitman direction, the young ebay company soon emerged into an online auction giant that went from 30 employees and $4 million in annual revenue to more than 15,000 employees and $8 billion in annual revenue. Meg Whitman is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Previously, Meg served as President and Chief Executive Officer for Hewlett-Packard Company from 2011 until 2015, as well as Chairman of the Board from 2014 until 2015, leading the company’s turnaround and subsequent separation into two companies – Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. Meg is also the Chairman of the Board of HP Inc. According to Forbes her net worth was estimated $2.1 billion.

10. Ana Patricia Botín

In 2014 Ana Patricia Botín became one of the most powerful banking executives in the world and the first woman to head the largest bank, Santander, in the Eurozone, which as of early June 2016 had a $68.4 billion market cap.

Bio: Ana Patricia was born on 4 October 1960 in Santander, Spain. She graduated in Economics from the University of Bryn Mawr (USA) after having studied at Harvard. After eight years working in corporate and investment banking at JP Morgan, she joined the Santander Group in 1988.

Achievements:Ana Botín has been one of the driving forces behind Santander’s international expansion, especially in Latin America, as well as the development of corporate banking, asset management and treasury. As CEO of Santander UK, she has led the transformation of the institution into a universal and commercial bank after the merger of three mortgage banks (Abbey National, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley). Thanks to her efforts, the bank is the first to trial faster bitcoin-based money transfers, and has introduced innovative and more profitable checking schemes. But to elevate Santander’s flagging stock price, Botín must address economic risks in two of its biggest markets, Brazil and the U.K., from which the bank garnishes nearly 40% of its profits.