Most Powerful Women 2012

Women were gaining significant power in the corporate world and had become a lot more interesting than in the old days when women leaders, to thrive, had to behave and compete with men.The MPW community includes the most prominent women leaders in business, philanthropy, government, education, and the arts

1. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Angela Dorothea Merkel born Hamburg, 17 July 1954 is the Chancellor of Germany and party leader of the Christian Democratic Union. Merkel is the first woman to have become Chancellor of Germany.

A physical chemist by professional background, Merkel entered politics in the wake of the Revolutions of 1989 and briefly served as the deputy spokesperson for Lothar de Maizière’s democratically elected East German government prior to the German reunification. Following reunification in 1990, she was elected to the Bundestag, where she has represented the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern since. She served as Federal Minister for Women and Youth 1991–1994 and as Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety 1994–1998 in Helmut Kohl’s fourth and fifth cabinets. She was Secretary General of the CDU 1998–2000, and was elected chairperson in 2000. From 2002 to 2005, she was also chair of the CDU/CSU parliamentary coalition.

2. Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State


Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton born on October 26, 1947 is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. In the 2008 election, Clinton was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. 

3. Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil.

Dilma Vana Rousseffis is the 36th and current President of Brazil. She is the first woman to hold the office. Prior to that, in 2005, she was also the first woman to become Chief of Staff to the President of Brazil, appointed by then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

4. Melinda Gates, Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Melinda French Gatesborn born on August 15, 1964 is an American businesswoman and philanthropist. She is the wife of Bill Gates. She is the co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a former unit manager for several Microsoft products such as Publisher, Microsoft Bob, Encarta, and Expedia. 

5. Jill Abramson, Executive Editor, The New York Times


Jill Ellen Abramson (born March 19, 1954) is the executive editor of The New York Times. Assuming the position in September 2011, she became the first woman in this role in the paper’s 160-year history.

6. Sonia Gandhi, President, Indian National Congress Party

Sonia Gandhi (born December 1946) is an Italian-born Indian politician and the President of the Indian National Congress, one of the major political parties of India. She is the widow of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi and belongs to the Nehru–Gandhi family. After his assassination in 1991, she was invited by the Indian National Congress to take over the Congress but refused and publicly stayed away from politics amidst constant prodding by the Congress. She finally agreed to join politics in 1997; in 1998, she was elected as the leader of the Congress.

7. Michelle Obama, US First Lady

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) is the wife of the 44th and incumbent President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the first African-American First Lady of the United States. Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Obama attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School before returning to Chicago and to work at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met her future husband. Subsequently, she worked as part of the staff of Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, and for the University of Chicago Medical Center.


8. Christine Lagarde, Head of International Monetary Fund


Christine Madeleine born 1 January 1956 is a French lawyer and Union for a Popular Movement politician who has been the Managing Director (MD) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 5 July 2011. Previously, she held various ministerial posts in the French government: she was Minister of Economic Affairs, Finances and Industry and before that Minister of Agriculture and Fishing and Minister of Trade in the government of Dominique de Villepin. Lagarde was the first woman ever to become Minister of Economic Affairs of a G8 economy, and is the first woman to ever head the IMF


9. Janet Napolitano, US Secretary of Homeland Security


Janet Napolitano (born November 29, 1957) is the third and incumbent United States Secretary of Homeland Security, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She is the fourth person (including an acting Secretary) to hold the position, which was created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A member of the Democratic Party, she was the 21st Governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009. She was Arizona’s third female governor, and the first woman to win re-election. Prior to her election as governor, she served as Attorney General of Arizona from 1999 to 2002. She was the first woman and the 23rd person to serve in that office. Napolitano is the 1977 Truman Scholar from New Mexico. Forbes ranked her as the world’s 9th most powerful woman in 2012

10. Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook

Sheryl Kara Sandberg (born August 28, 1969) is an American businesswoman. She has served as the chief operating officer of Facebook since 2008. In June 2012, she was also elected to the board of directors by the existing board members, becoming the first woman to serve on its board. Before Facebook, Sandberg was Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google. She also was involved in launching Google’s philanthropic arm Google.org. Before Google, Sandberg served as chief of staff for the United States Department of the Treasury. 

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