By Geoffrey Smith
September 21, 2017

Good morning.

Today we’re publishing our 20th Most Powerful Women list, our annual stock-taking of what it means and what it takes to be a woman in business. As with every year, there are things to cheer and things to deplore. Some metrics have never looked better: 32 Fortune 500 companies had a woman as CEO when we published this year’s Fortune 500, more than ever before, and the list now includes the first Latina to have that distinction, PG&E’s Geisha Williams.

And yet it’s clear from the drumbeat of news stories throughout the year that many of the problems facing women are still pretty intractable: think of Susan Fowler at Uber, Gretchen Carlson at Fox News, and all the unnamed women at Google belittled by James Damore. Optimists (among which Fortune likes to count itself) can take heart from the fact that those cases all reflect the increasing confidence of women that exposing such wrongs will actually lead to change for the better. That said, this is a struggle that has neither a beginning nor an end, and which certainly doesn’t progress in a straight line.

We’ve chosen Mary Barra to head our list this year in recognition of her achievements at GM, which include among other things being the maker of the fastest-selling non-luxury pure electric car in the U.S., the Chevy Bolt. Barra has also managed to do what her predecessors couldn’t, by exiting loss-making markets in Europe and the emerging world to free up capital and energy for businesses that have a future.

Today we’re also publishing Beth Kowitt’s interview with No. 2 on the list, PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, who opens up about that Kendall Jenner ad, among other things. You can read Beth’s profile of Nooyi here.

More news below.

Geoffrey Smith
@geoffreytsmith
geoffrey.smith@fortune.com

 

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