What Do 65% of the Most Powerful Women Have In Common? Sports
The link between female leadership and competitive sports has been well-documented. A 2015 study of 400 female C-suite executives conducted by espnW and EY found an undeniable correlation between athletic and business success: more than half (52%) of the c-level execs surveyed played sport at the university level, compared to 39% of women at other management levels. That same study reports that 80% of female Fortune 500 executives played competitive sports at one point in their lives.
The women on the 2017 Fortune list of Most Powerful Women are no exception. Of the 31 MPWs who responded to Fortune‘s query, 20 (65%) played sports competitively in either high school or college; sometimes both. The most popular sport was a three-way tie between swimming, basketball, and tennis (five women each).
The swimmers on our list include are HPE CEO Meg Whitman, Google (she’s still at it! See this Fortune profile of the CEO for more), CFO Ruth Porat, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood, and Fidelity Investments personal investing president Kathleen Murphy. PG&E CEO Geisha Williams</a> and J&J group worldwide chair Sandi Peterson were both tennis players.
Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert, KPMG CEO Lynne Doughtie, and CVS Health EVP Helena Foulkes played both basketball and tennis, among other sports; P&G group president of North America Carolyn Tastad and Murphy also shot hoops.
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Four women made their presence heard from the sidelines. Campbell’s Soup CEO Denise Morrison was a member of her alma mater Boston College’s majorette squad, performing for the New York Jets and the Boston Patriots during the football teams’ half-time shows. Apple retail SVP Angela Ahrendts was a cheerleader for her school, Ball State University. NBCUniversal chairman Bonnie Hammer and Wells Fargo senior EVP and head of community banking Mary Mack were both on their respective high school cheer squads.
Other sports played by MPWs include softball, track, gymnastics, lacrosse, and field hockey.