By John Kell and Alan Murray
September 10, 2015

This morning we publish our Most Powerful Women in business list – a Fortune tradition since 1998. That year, a Lucent executive by the name of Carly Fiorina (target of Donald Trump’s latest bizarre utterance) held the top spot. There were only two female CEOs on the list: Jill Barad of Mattel and Co-CEO Marion Sandler of Golden West Financial.


This year there are a record 27 CEOs on the list, overseeing a total of $1 trillion in stock market value. The top three:


1 – Mary Barra, number two last year, led General Motors through its recall crisis.


2 – Indra Nooyi, number three last year, heads Pepsi and was ahead of the pack in recognizing shifting views about healthy food.


3 – Ginni Rometty, who led the list last year, is in the midst of a bold restructuring of IBM, but its steady slide in sales has taken a toll on her ranking.


I mentioned yesterday that three of our top ten – Nooyi, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman (No. 5), and Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld (No. 9) – have come under attack in recent years by activist Nelson Peltz… and survived. Kullman, in particular, has become something of a folk hero among the CEO crowd for defeating Peltz in a shareholder vote.


My colleague Pattie Sellers has raised the question of whether Peltz has a problem with women. Not sure about that, but this is clear: while women remain a too-small minority among CEOs – only 24 of the Fortune 500 – the ones who make it to the top have shown they can hold their own in a street fight.


More news below. Fortune’s Tory Newmyer raises some legitimate questions about Jeb Bush’s tax plan. But I’m just glad someone has put a serious policy proposal on the table.


Alan Murray


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