We have made great strides in the past 100 years here in the UK, ladies. We (finally) got the right to vote; our current and longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is a woman; we’ve had two female Prime Ministers; and 70% of us are in employment, the highest rate since records began.
But there’s still a long way to go in the quest for equality of the sexes: the gender pay gap that has been so much in the spotlight recently is testament to that. In her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg writes, “Real change will come when powerful women are less of an exception”, and we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
We have compiled a selection of influential and entrepreneurial women from across the globe, all of whom have broken boundaries and crashed through glass ceilings, often within male-dominated industries, in order to achieve massive and well-deserved success in their chosen fields.
These are just some of the amazing women who contribute to make the world a better place. A special mention must also go out to all the influential women who don’t usually get the column inches or the widespread praise they deserve: to all the female teachers, doctors, nurses, cleaners, judges, architects, nannies, anyone else in a “normal” working position; and not forgetting, of course, the stay at home mothers, who don’t even receive any financial rewards in their role.
All those women have the power to inspire and mould the young hearts and minds of the future. If we can teach our sons and daughters that there’s equal worth working in whichever sphere, regardless of gender, and that women can be role models in whatever they choose to do in life, then Sheryl Sandberg’s quote about real change will truly be realised.
As Google’s 16th employee, Susan was the firm’s first marketing manager, before advocating for its $1.65bn acquisition of YouTube in 2006. She is now the CEO of YouTube and is worth an estimated $410m.
Melinda’s work as a philanthropist and Co-Founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to enhance healthcare and reduce poverty globally, and to expand educational opportunities and access to IT within America. She has spoken out against sexism in the tech industry, and on the importance of a work/life balance.
Having served as Chancellor of Germany since 2005, Angela is often described as the de facto leader of the European Union and the most powerful woman in the world.
The Williams sisters are two of the most successful professional tennis players on the planet, having been ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association at the World No. 1 position in both singles and doubles.
A French lawyer and politician, Christine has been the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund since 2011, having previously held various ministerial posts in the French government.
Theresa May has been the UK Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party since 2016.
Born into poverty in rural Mississippi, media proprietor Oprah Winfrey is now the richest African-American in the USA, and her work as a philanthropist makes her one of the world’s most generous contributors.
Dame Anna Wintour
With her trademark bob haircut, dark sunglasses and fierce reputation, Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief is one of the most influential figures in the fashion world.
The Queen is Britain’s longest-lived and longest-reigning monarch, having reached her Sapphire Jubilee in 2017.
Arianna was the co-founder and editor-in-chief of her eponymous liberal news and opinion website, The Huffington Post, which was acquired by AOL in 2011 for $315m.
As the Director, co-founder and former president of Marvell Technology Group, Dai is considered one of the world’s most successful female entrepreneurs.
Sheryl was vice president of global online sales and operations at Google, before leaving to join Facebook as its COO. She is also the founder of the Lean In Foundation, dedicated to offering women inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals.
Whatever your feelings on these world-famous reality show stars, there’s no disputing the enormous influence and impact they have had on the world of entertainment and show business. Full contact details for Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian
Sara used $5,000 of her savings to develop the first Spanx product, before building the company into the multi-million dollar business it is today. In 2006 she launched a foundation to help women through education and entrepreneurial training.
One of the most powerful women in Chinese media, Yang is the co-founder and chairperson of the Sun Media Group and Sun Culture Foundation, as well as being a leading television host
During her husband’s two term presidency, former lawyer and First Lady Michelle was an advocate for the arts, education, poverty awareness and nutrition.
Virologist Françoise was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2008 for her work in discovering HIV at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.
The Pakistani activist who publicly spoke out against the Taliban’s prohibition on the education of girls became one of the most famous teenagers in the world when she survived an assassination attempt. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 and now studies PPE at Oxford.
Best known for writing the phenomenally successful Harry Potter book series, JK is also a passionate philanthropist, having established the Volant Charitable Trust, which combats poverty and social inequality.
Descending from a long line of renowned French chefs, Anne-Sophie is only the fourth female chef to win three coveted Michelin stars for her restaurant, Maison Pic, in southeast France.
Jacinda is the world’s youngest female head of government, having taken office as Prime Minister of New Zealand at the age of 37.