15 of the Most Powerful Women in the World

Michelle Obama

Wikimedia Commons / By Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O'Donald, USN

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In business, media, politics, music and fashion, several women stand out as some of the most powerful in the world. These 15 women have defined the way we eat, shop, think, sing, dance, date and learn.

1. Michelle Obama

The former FLOTUS tops our list of the most powerful women in the world. She’s Harvard University-educated and a champion of healthy living via her Let’s Move campaign. Michelle Obama is still a sought after speaker and much-beloved leader. 

2. Oprah Winfrey 

The former talk show host is still a household name. She’s got a magazine and TV network and has been a spokesperson for companies including Weight Watchers. She’s also known for her philanthropic efforts aiding girls in Africa. Perhaps one of the more fun things she’s known for is her Oprah’s Favorite Things list, where she curates a list of holiday gifts, introduces us to some new amazing brands and provides one of each of her favorite things to deserving members of the community. 

3. Indra Nooyi

The CEO of PepsiCo from 2006 – 2018 has been featured on many significant lists of powerful people, including Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Women. Her leadership of the company was largely successful and included her initiative to classify products into three categories “fun for you” (candy, potato chips and sodas), “better for you” (diet sodas and low-fat snacks) and “good for you” (oatmeal and other healthier foods). 

4. Hillary Clinton

Former first lady of the United States of America, senator, secratary of state and presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton has had a long and successful political career. As first lady, Clinton advocated as for healthcare reform but was not able to get legislation passed in Congress. In 2000, she was elected the first female senator in the state of New York and was re-elected in 2006. In 2008, she ran for president and was defeated by Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. She served as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. In 2016, she clinched the Democratic nomination for president but was defeated in the general election by Republican nominee Donald Trump. 

5. Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris is a lawyer turned politician serving as a senator for California since 2017. She’s currently a Democratic candidate for president of the United States in 2020. Her campaign is not accepting donations from corporate PACs. She was the first African-American woman to serve as attorney general of California and the second to serve as a senator in the state. 

6. Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren is an academic turned senator who is also hoping for the Democratic nomination to become President in 2020. She is a trailblazer as he first female senator in Massachusetts. Her supporters had suggested she run for president in the 2016 race, but she said she would not. Now, she is seeking the nomination for 2020. She is vehimently anti-Trump. 

7. Beyoncé 

Beyonce Knowles-Carter is a performing artist and savvy businesswoman. She began her career singing with the group Destiny’s Child. Since then, she has become one of the most successful recording artists and is known for hits including “Crazy In Love”, “All the Single Ladies (Put a ring on it)," "Lemonade" and “Run the World (Girls).” She has starred in movies including Austin Powers in Goldmember with Mike Myers and toured internationally. 

8. Rihanna 

In addition to a successful career as a recording artist with hits like “Pon de Replay”, “Umbrella” and “Birthday Cake,” Rihanna is also a businesswoman with a successful fashion and beauty brand. In 2018, she launched Savage X Fenty, an inclusively-sized lingerie brand featuring multiple skin tones and available in a very wide range of sizes. She launched her fashion brand Fenty with LVMH in 2019 and was the first African American woman to do so. Her cosmetic line Fenty Beauty is available at Sephora stores and designed for all skin colors. 

9. Barbara Walters 

Barbara Walters is an award-winning journalist and probably best known as the host of programming including 20/20 and The View. She served as host and producer of 20/20 from 1979 until 2004. In 1997, she created and launched The View, a morning talk show with an all-female panel. The View is still being broadcast today, 22 years later! In her retirement, she continued to host and produce special segments for ABC, including her annual 10 Most Fascinating People until 2015. She has not made a public appearance since 2016. 

10. Michele Buck

Michelle Buck is the CEO of Hershey’s — a very sweet gig if you’re a candy lover. In addition to being one of only a few woman CEOs in the Fortune 500, Buck is an accomplished leader. Under her leadership,  Hershey’s has gotten into the healthy snack business with the acquisition of Amplify Snack Brands. In addition to her successes at Hershey she’s been named multiple times to Fortune's list of “Most Powerful Women”. 

11. Mary Barra

Mary Barra is the first female CEO of international automaker General Motors Company. She has held this position since 2014. Barra has worked for General Motors since she was an 18-year-old co-op student. She held various positions in the manufacturing plant before becoming a company executive. As the CEO, she issued safety recalls impacting over 30 million cars and was called to testify before the United States Senate. She also serves on the board of the Walt Disney Company and is the fourth woman to ever do so.  

12. Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour has served as the editor-in-chief at Vogue since 1988 and is the artistic director for Conde Nast, a position she has held since 2013. Her iconic sunglasses and bob haircut are recognized around the world. Her eye for spotting trends has defined fashion for over three decades.  She has directly influenced many of the most important names in fashion and helped launch countless careers including those of designers, models and even authors. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the characters Miranda Priestley in The Devil Wears Prada and Fey Sommers in the ABC TV series Ugly Betty are both inspired by her. 

13. Emily Weiss

Emily Weiss is the CEO of Glossier, billed by Forbes as one of the most disruptive brands in the beauty industry. Prior to starting the company she wrote a popular blog called Into the Gloss. While blogging, she also worked at Vogue and was an intern for Teen Vogue. While interning at Teen Vogue, she made a cameo appearance on the MTV show The Hills with Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port. As of March 2019, Glossier was valued at $1.2 billion.  Glossier has expanded its line and become a cult favorite among beauty junkies around the world.

14. Gregg Renfew 

Gregg Renfew is the founder and CEO of Beauty Counter, a safer skincare and makeup line sold by consultants directly to consumers. She started the company in 2013 and has created a list of 1,500 potentially harmful ingredients that are not used in the products. These ingredients are called the "Never" list. In 2018, over 40,000 independent consultants sold Beauty Counter products. The company has also formed retail partnerships with both J. Crew and Target. 

15. Whitney Wolf Herd

At just 30 years old, Whitney Wolf Herd is worth $290 million. She left a job at Tinder in 2014 to start her own dating app, Bumble. The app is supposed to be a more female-friendly app, since women have to make the first move. In addition to dating, Bumble also helps people find business connections as well as their BFFs. Whitney has been recognized many times over as one of the wealthiest people under 30.

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