The Most Powerful Women in Business

Nearly half the women on our list run huge companies—a record. And all are working hard to transform their businesses.

By Caroline Fairchild, Beth Kowitt, Colleen Leahey, and Anne VanderMey, with additional reporting by Michal Lev-Ram and Patricia Sellers

More CEOs, more industries, more power, more challenges. That’s the story of Fortune’s 2014 ranking of the 50 Most Powerful Women in ­Business, which features an all-time record of 24 large-company CEOs in its pages. Our women are leading—and in many cases pushing through difficult transformations—in heavy industries such as tech, energy, defense, and autos. Ginni Rometty, No. 1 for the third time running, continues to retool IBM. No. 2, Mary Barra, must fix General Motors from the inside out. And Marillyn Hewson, the CEO of Lockheed Martin and our fourth-ranked woman, is looking beyond defense for growth. Today eight of our top 10 MPW lead large industrial, tech, and consumer products companies.

It’s a long way from our original 1998 list, on which, we noted at the time, most members “came from industries with a premium on creativity,” such as advertising, media, and publishing, with “no top women at blue-chip firms.” Creativity is still a requirement for success, of course, but you no longer have to work in a “creative” industry to advance as a woman. Another common denominator is change: Seven of our top 50 were named to their jobs in the past year, and nine are newcomers to the list. That suggests more turnover at the upper echelons of business—which, it’s fair to say, is a very good thing for a whole lot of powerful women. —Jennifer Reingold

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