Since 1998, Fortune has produced an annual list on The Most Powerful Women in Business. But what started 16 years ago as a ranking of the world’s top female leaders has transformed into a multimedia brand including live conferences, a daily newsletter and an online channel. As the franchise grows and expands, the Fortune Most Powerful Women team is constantly looking for inspiration and news from the world's top female talent. Like many others, our go-to place for that info is often Twitter.
Here are 55 of our favorite women to follow on Twitter who actively champion gender diversity and leadership both professionally and on social media. (Editor's note: The women are in no particular order.)
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Helena Morrissey, CEO, Newton Investment Management and Founder, The 30% Club
Twitter handle: @morrisseyhelena
Number of followers: 7,200
Influence: Aside from heading a London-based investment firm with $88 billion under management, Morrissey runs the 30% Club, an organization committed to advancing female managers in the U.K.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, President & CEO, New America Foundation
Twitter handle: @SlaughterAM
Number of followers: 106,000
Influence: The former Princeton professor and Director of Policy and Planning at the U.S. State Department is now focused on gender equality issues. Her 2012 article 'Why Women Still Can't Have It All' in The Atlantic continues to shape public discussion on work-life balance.
Shonda Rhimes, Founder, Shondaland
Twitter handle: @shondarhimes
Number of followers: 718,000
Influence: This creator of ABC's most addictive television series like Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, all which feature strong female leads, has built herself quite the small screen empire. Rhimes gives her powerhouse characters' a run for their money: Her business prowess earned her a spot on Fortune's Most Powerful Women list in 2013.
Elizabeth Warren, Senator, Massachusetts
Twitter handle: @SenWarren
Number of followers: 108,000
Influence: The senator from Massachusetts is a champion for women's rights and has made equal pay and women's health issues central tennants of her platform.
Shiza Shahid, Co-Founder, Malala Fund
Twitter handle: @shiza
Number of followers: 8,812
Influence: Focused on creating a world where girls are empowered to reach their potential through education, the Malala Fund was co-founded by Shahid after Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl, was shot on a school bus in 2012 by the Taliban.
Debora Spar, President, Barnard College
Twitter handle: @deboraspar
Number of followers: 3,189
Influence: The leader of the all women's college is also the author of the bestselling book Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection.
Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, Cisco
Twitter handle: @padmasree
Number of followers: 1,480,000
Influence: This high-powered tech exec loudly advocates for encouraging more women to study and pursue STEM careers.
Becky Hammon, Assistant Coach, San Antonio Spurs
Twitter handle: @BeckyHammon
Number of followers: 27,100
Influence: The first full-time female assistant coach in the NBA, Hammon wants to set an example for women athletes who aspire to reach the top.
Anna Maria Chávez, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA
Twitter handle: @AnnaMariaChavez
Number of followers: 5,682
Influence: Once a Girl Scout herself, Chavez gives young women leadership opportunities early on in their lives--and thickens plenty of Americans' waists by pushing the Scouts to practice entrepreneurship through cookie sales.
Lauren Leader-Chivee, Founder and CEO, All In Together Inc.
Twitter handle: @laurenchivee
Number of followers: 13,200
Influence: Leader-Chivee's nonprofit campaign is dedicated to mobilizing American women to advocate for issues they care about.
Wendy Kopp, Founder, Teach For All
Twitter handle: @wendykopp
Number of followers: 15,800
Influence: After founding Teach For America in 1989 to improve education inequity in the United States, Kopp has become a leader in both education as well as women's rights--and has taken her business global.
Sallie Krawcheck, Chair, Ellevate Network, Ellevate Asset Management
Twitter handle: @SallieKrawcheck
Number of followers: 25,600
Influence: This former Bank of America and Citigroup executive pursued a new path after getting kicked out of her Wall Street gigs. Krawcheck started Ellevate Asset Management, which invests in companies with a significant number women in high positions.
Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation
Twitter handle: @CecileRichards
Number of followers: 40,000
Influence: A nationally respected leader in the field of women's health and reproductive rights, Richards is often at the center of the heated abortion debate in the United States.
Gloria Steinem, Author and Activist
Twitter handle: @gloriasteinem
Number of followers: 115,000
Influence: This feminist activist and author is one of the women's movement's leading voices. Steinem co-founded the Women's Action Alliance, a national information center that specializes in nonsexist, multiracial children's education and the National Women's Political Caucus, a group that works to advance the numbers of pro-equality women in office.
Gina Bianchini, Founder and CEO, Mightybell
Twitter handle: @ginab
Number of followers: 15,100
Influence: The former CEO of social networking platform Ning, Bianchini continues to stand out as a prominent leader in Silicon Valley's sea of entrepreneurs.
Zainab Salbi, Founder and Former CEO, Women for Women International
Twitter handle: @ZainabSalbi
Number of followers: 23,800
Influence: The Iraqi-born woman has dedicated her life to helping women in war-struck regions around the world by rebuilding their lives and communities.
Ingrid Vanderveldt, Founder, Empowering a Billion Women by 2020
Twitter handle: @ontheroadwithiv
Number of followers: 17,100
Influence: This American businesswoman, media personality, and investor was also the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Dell.
Aileen Lee, Founder, Cowboy Ventures
Twitter handle: @aileenlee
Number of followers: 17,000
Influence: Who says women VCs don't exist? Prior to founding seed-stage venture firm Cowboy, she joined the venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 1999.
Serena Williams, Professional Tennis Player
Twitter handle: @serenawilliams
Number of followers: 4,400,000
Influence: Currently ranked No. 1 in women's single tennis, William's just won her third-straight U.S. Open singles title.
Wendy Clark, Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing Communications and Capabilities The Coca-Cola Company
Twitter handle: @wnd
Number of followers: 25,800
Influence: Clark oversees global design, marketing communications, media, sponsorships and interactive marketing for one of the world's best-known brands. She also was featured on Fortune's 40 Under 40 list in 2009.
Karin Agness, Founder and President, Enlightened Women
Twitter handle: @karinagness
Number of followers: 7,789
Influence: Agness' networking group supports the education and leadership skills of conservative college women.
Sophia Amoruso, Founder and CEO, Nasty Gal
Twitter handle: @sophia_amoruso
Number of followers: 32,000
Influence: This CEO grew a strong following among Millennial girls after she charted her unconventional path to success in the New York Times bestselling memoir #Girlboss.
Julie Smolyansky, CEO, Lifeway Foods
Twitter handle: @juliesmolyansky
Number of followers: 3,909
Influence: In 2002 at the age of 27, Smolyansky became the youngest female CEO of a publicly held firm when she took over her father's kefir business.
Whitney Johnson, Co-Founder, Rose Park Advisors
Twitter handle: @johnsonwhitney
Number of followers: 45,200
Influence: The author of Dare-Dream-Do is a regular contributor of The Harvard Business Review where she frequently writes pieces on women and leadership.
Geena Davis, Founder, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Twitter handle: @GDIGM
Number of followers: 8,203
Influence: The famed actress from Thelma and Louise is now working within the media and entertainment industry to improve gender balance and reduce stereotyping of female characters.
Maureen Dowd, Columnist, New York Times
Twitter handle: @NYTimesDowd
Number of followers: 113,000
Influence: The author of Are Men Necessary? frequently moves the needle on gender issues with her op-ed columns in The New York Times.
Robin Roberts, Good Morning America Co-Anchor
Twitter handle: @robinroberts
Number of followers: 920,000
Influence: The morning anchor recently launched her own production company that focuses on creating documentaries and live special events.
Emma Watson, UN Women's Goodwill Ambassador
Arianna Huffington, Editor-In-Chief, The Huffington Post Media Group
Twitter handle: @ariannahuff
Number of followers: 1,630,000
Influence: Forget work-life balance, this media tycoon is calling on the country to completely redefine success beyond the traditional metrics of money and power.
Vanessa Bush, Editor-In-Chief, ESSENCE
Twitter handle: @vanessa_KBush
Number of followers: 5,676
Influence: This award-winning journalist became editor-in-chief of Essence in 2013 and is focused on using the platform to empower women around the world.
Kristin van Ogtrop, Editor, Real Simple
Twitter handle: @kvanogtrop
Number of followers: 6,632
Influence: The editor of Real Simple, whose partnership with Time magazine created a great conversation around women and how they view success, is a source of refreshing candor about the challenges of being a working mom. (Don’t believe us? Check out her hysterical book, Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom.)
Amanda Hess, Writer, Slate
Twitter handle: @amandahess
Number of followers: 21,900
Influence: Hess covers women leaders and gender issues for Slate. Her reporting is dogged and her tone just the right amount of snarky; her Twitter feed will both educate and entertain you.
Ann Friedman, Journalist
Twitter handle: @annfriedman
Number of followers: 28,000
Influence: The LA-based journalist has harped on everything from sexism in tech to having a diverse group of friends to the pros of a little bit of objectification to affirmative consent (“yes means yes”).
Kelly Ayotte, Senator, New Hampshire
Twitter handle: @kellyayotte
Number of followers: 33,000
Influence: The GOP-darling and New Hampshire Senator is the youngest in the 20-woman crew of female Senators. Though she’s only been in office since 2011, she’s made waves on Capitol Hill and her named was tossed as a possible running mate when Mitt Romney ran for president in 2012.
Jamilah Lemieux, Senior Digital Editor, EBONY
Twitter handle: @JamilahLemieux
Number of followers: 31,100
Influence: Lemieux was the founder of The Beautiful Struggler, where she anonymously wrote about life as a 20-something in New York, before joining EBONY in 2011. She continues to be a strong millennial voice on race, gender and culture.
Joanna Coles, Editor-in-Chief, Cosmopolitan
Twitter handle: @joannacoles
Number of followers: 91,400
Influence: The Brit-raised editor gained a loyal following during her reign as Marie Claire’s chief, where she mixed serious, informative features with pop culture-heavy pages. She’s taking the same approach at Cosmo—and recently helped the magazine win its first public service journalism ASME.
Alyse Nelson, President and CEO, Vital Voices Global Partnership
Twitter handle: @alysenelson
Number of followers: 3,449
Influence: As the CEO of Vital Voices, a non-profit started by Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Melanne Verveer in 2000, Nelson is all about empowering women in developing economies by providing them with critical resources to help expand their education, businesses and more.
Lena Dunham, Creator, Girls
Twitter handle: @lenadunham
Number of followers: 1,770,000
Influence: Dunham is a triple threat: She writes, she directs, and she acts. At just 28, her success with Girls (and her just-published book, I’m Not That Kind of Girl) proves that authenticity is a fiercely powerful tool.
Susan McPherson, Founder and CEO, McPherson Strategies
Twitter handle: @susanmcp1
Number of followers: 23,800
Influence: The corporate social responsibility consultant tweets constantly about women’s issues.
Kara Swisher, Co-Executive Editor, Re/Code
Twitter handle: @karaswisher
Number of followers: 974,000
Influence: Silicon Valley loves to fear Swisher. She’s a force when it comes to breaking tech-related news and rarely holds back on highlighting the industry’s sexism.
Reshma Saujani, Founder, Girls Who Code
Twitter handle: @reshmasaujani
Number of followers: 16,900
Influence: The founder of Girls Who Code is on a mission to raise the next generation of female hackers.
Christy Turlington, Founder, Every Mother Counts
Twitter handle: @cturlington
Number of followers: 122,000
Influence: Though Turlington is best known for her face, her fulltime job has a much bigger goal. Every Mother Counts, which she started in 2010, wants to make childbirth safe for moms all over the world.
Melanne Verveer, Executive Director, The Institute For Women
Twitter handle: @MelanneVerveer
Number of followers: 1,854
Influence: Melanne was the first ever ambassador-at-large and director of the State Department’s office for Global Women’s Issues. Today, she heads Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security. ‘Nuff said.
Jean Chatzky, Financial Editor, NBC's Today Show
Twitter handle: @jeanchatzky
Number of followers: 40,000
Influence: The Today Show correspondent (who also writes for Fortune) is a pro on financial tips that are helpful for any gender, though many of her suggestions especially appeal to women.
Maria Shriver, Founder, The Shriver Report
Twitter handle: @mariashriver
Number of followers: 2,320,000
Influence: The Shriver Report, the former California first lady’s non-profit, works to shift the conversations around women and they’re treated by men, as well as by institutions.
Katie Couric, Global News Anchor, Yahoo
Twitter handle: @katiecouric
Number of followers: 1,150,000
Influence: A longtime TV journalist, she was the first woman to anchor a big three weekday broadcast on her own.
Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator, New York
Twitter handle: @SenGillibrand
Number of followers: 120,000
Influence: Named to the U.S. Senate as a replacement for Hillary Clinton in 2009, she was reelected handily in 2012. She has championed the rights of working women with her FAMILY act, which would create paid leave for all employees.
Cindy Gallop, Founder, IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn Companies
Twitter handle: @cindygallop
Number of followerss: 29,900
Influence: Gallop spent her career in advertising, becoming founding chairperson of the U.S office of Bartle Bogle Hogarty. Now she is a much in demand speaker who has launched makelovenotporn.com, meant to change how sexuality is portrayed in popular culture.
Nilofer Merchant, Corporate Director, Author
Twitter handle: @nilofer
Number of followers: 43,100
Influence: She's a management thinker and strategy consultant with a deep background in technology. Early to social, she calls herself the "Jane Bond' of innovation.
Billie Jean King, Co-Founder, World Team Tennis and President, Billie Jean King Enterprises, Inc.
Twitter handle: @billiejeanking
Number of followers: 123,000
Influence: She won 39 Grand Slam Tennis titles--as well as the famous Battle of the Sexes against Bobby Riggs in 1973. She's been a lifelong advocate for women in sports.
Natalia Oberti Noguera, Founder and CEO, Pipeline Fellowship
Twitter handle: @nakisnakis
Number of followers: 11,700
Influence: Oberti Noguera is the founder of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing bootcamp for women entrepreneurs, and an active speaker on women and business.
Belinda Parmar, Founder, Lady Geek and CEO, Little Miss Geek
Twitter handle: @belindaparmar
Number of followers: 11,400
Influence: Parmar created Lady Geek, a creative and marketing agency aimed at appealing to women. She also runs Little Miss Geek, a tech nonprofit that hopes "the next Mark Zuckerberg will be female."
Claire Cain Miller, Reporter, New York Times
Twitter handle: @clairecm
Number of followers: 26,000
Influence: She's a New York Times reporter who frequently writes on the intersection of technology, work and family as well as the shortage of women working in tech.
Gwen Ifill, Co-Anchor and Co-Managing Editor, PBS Newshour
Twitter handle: @ gwenifill
Number of followers: 81,200
Influence: Ifill is a longtime reporter and currently the co-host of PBS's NewsHour. She also moderated two vice-presidential debates and has written a book on race and politics.
Melinda Gates, Co-Founder, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Twitter handle: @ melindagates
Number of followers: 568,000
Influence: Yes, she's Bill Gates' wife, but she's best known for her groundbreaking work as cofounder of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.