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13 women CEOs that are breaking the glass ceiling in the world of business and tech

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Jan 10, 2024

13 women CEOs that are breaking the glass ceiling in the world of business and tech

We’re calling all changemakers and dream-chasers! Let’s talk about the powerhouses who are not just leaning in but kicking down the doors of opportunity—our badass female CEOs. 🚀✨

 In a world where actions speak volumes, these women are turning boardrooms into empowered spaces. 

It’s not about leaning in; it’s about taking over and reshaping the game! Get ready for a rollercoaster ride of inspiration as we unpack how these queens are not only running the show but rewriting the rules.

Businesswoman talking to female colleagues while working in the office.

The importance of women-owned businesses

In a world where empowerment is the new currency, women-owned businesses aren’t just a trend – they’re an economic revolution. 

The rise of female entrepreneurs and leaders isn’t merely about smashing ceilings; it’s about creating an ecosystem that thrives on diversity, innovation, and resilience.

Colleagues working together on project.

A company directed by a woman is trailblazing, as it challenges traditional molds and proving that success knows no gender. These enterprises embody the spirit of breaking free from stereotypes, demonstrating that a woman’s place is not just what’s expected but so much more.

The infamous gender gap

The gender gap is not just a buzzword you hear on TikTok but a reality that often hides in plain sight, affecting how we live, work, and dream. It’s like an invisible wall that separates opportunities, experiences, and rewards based on gender. It’s the gap between what men and women can achieve, earn, and aspire to in various aspects of life. And spoiler alert: it’s not about ability; it’s about a system that has, for too long, favored one side over the other.

There is actually a study called the “Global Gender Gap score,” that measures the difference in opportunity for men and women in over 140 countries. It’s done every year, and in 2023, it stands at 68.4% closed. That means we still have a long way to go in terms of equality!

We see this phenomenon a lot in the workplace, where it makes a cameo in the form of the gender pay gap. Imagine two colleagues doing the same job, but one takes home a bigger paycheck just because of their gender. Unfair, right? Well, it’s a reality! Women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. And that’s not even taking intersectionality into account! Women of color and/or disability still face a bigger gap.

Business woman and man figurines standing on coins.

It isn’t just about salary digits; it’s about the lack of women in leadership positions, only occupying 35% of them. It’s as if the ladder to success has a few missing rungs for us, making it harder to climb to the top. This concept is carved in our minds since we are very young, when boys are taught to reach high and girls are taught to be there to help.

That’s why it’s crucial to let kids know that anything is possible if you dream and work hard enough, regardless of gender. Also, why we should be having actual representation and success stories to inspire future generations of women.

Women CEOs: A historical landscape

The first iconic woman in history to break through the corporate misogyny and assume the role of CEO was Katharine Graham. In 1972, she took the reins of The Washington Post Company, shattering gender expectations in the media industry. Graham’s pivotal role marked a turning point, proving that women could successfully navigate the complexities of executive leadership.

Katherine Graham sitting and smiling on her desk.

Source: Town & Country Magazine 

Powerhouses like Ellen Kulman and Carly Fiorina followed in her footsteps by leading DuPont and Hewlett-Packard, respectively. At the times, that being the 80s and 90s, these were rare cases and caused a hoot in the media and business worlds.

In an era where #GirlBoss is more than just a hashtag, the narrative is changing now that the corporate scene is getting it—leadership isn’t about gender; it’s a mix of hard work, vision, and smart moves, qualities any woman can possess.

A list 13 successful women CEOs and founders you should know

This is only a fraction of the influential women you should add to your vision board, but their impact is amazing enough to inspire you to reach your dreams!

Karen S. Lynch – CVS Health

Karen Lynch is the healthcare maestro at CVS Health, orchestrating a symphony of accessible and affordable care. She has spearheaded transformative initiatives at this company, driving its commitment to accessibility.

 Karen Lynch posing with a smile and arms crossed on a gray background.

Source: The Women Leaders

Under her leadership, the company has expanded its services, emphasizing the need for fast-acting medical care and better insurance plans. These and more reasons, is why she’s considered the #1 woman CEO of our time.

“Compassion and kindness are powers unto themselves if wielded correctly.”

Karen S. Lynch

May Barra – General Motors

Mary Barra isn’t just driving cars; she’s steering General Motors toward a future where innovation meets sustainability. She proves that breaking speed limits is cool, but breaking glass ceilings? Even cooler.

 May Barra sitting on the front seat of an open car.

Source: The CEO Magazine

Barra’s leadership underscores the importance of diversity and inclusion, especially in such a competitive industry. She’s opening doors for women in traditionally male-dominated fields and making the world a better place. Talk about a she-ro!

“If you do every job like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, that’s when you get noticed.”

May Barra

Dr. Lisa Su – Advanced Micro Devices

Dr. Lisa Su is the dynamo who transformed the semiconductor landscape. As the leader of AMD, she led her company from the edge of bankruptcy to a staggering 1,300% stock gain. As a Taiwanese immigrant, her rise to the top can be highly attributed to her passion and resilience.

Dr. Lisa Su holding up a processor at a conference.

Source: Forbes

She’s been widely regarded as one of the most powerful women in tech, and once crowned the highest-paid CEO, Dr. Su’s journey reflects her commitment to technological triumph.

“Don’t worry about the financials. Just focus on delivering great products.”

Dr. Lisa Su

Gail Koziara Boudreaux –  Elevance Health

Gail is the captain of the healthcare ship at Elevance Health, navigating towards a destination where personalized care is not just a concept but a lifestyle choice. Because why settle for one-size-fits-all when you can have tailored TLC?

 Gail Koziara Boudreaux posing with a smile and arms crossed on a gray background.

Source: The Chicago Network

Her plan reflects a commitment to improving the medical landscape. Her strategic vision and emphasis on patient-centric care highlight the valuable perspectives women bring to the industry.

“You can do everything if you are willing, open-minded, and take on the challenge.”

Gail Koziara Boudreaux

Sarah London – Centene

Sarah London is rewriting the script at Centene, making sure that quality healthcare isn’t a luxury but a right. She’s not just a CEO; she’s a superhero, fighting for a healthier and more equitable world.

Sarah London sitting and smiling while sitting on a chair.

Source: LinkedIn 

She’s helping shape the future, with a company that strives to provide a better quality of life to people from all backgrounds.

“Most of us live in a digitally native environment. Finding the right way to tap into that […] has been important.”

Sarah London

Priscilla Almondovar – Fannie Mae

Priscilla Almodovar is a fierce financial powerhouse leading Fannie Mae, turning housing stability into a happily-ever-after. Because let’s face it, everyone deserves a home, a safe-haven.

 Priscilla Almondovar smiling at someone off-camera.

Source: Miami Herald

She’s responsible for providing sensitive and fair mortgage services, while also using her position to focus on sustainability and environmental  responsibility.

“We can have a housing market that is strong, fair, and works for all-not just those who are fortunate to already own a piece of it.’

Priscilla Almondovar

Thasunda Brown Duckett – TIAA

Thasunda, the powerhouse behind TIAA, is transforming work retirement with a vision focused on empowerment. With her experience as CEO of Chase Consumer and now here, where she’s all about making financial well-being accessible to everyone,  because she grew up seeing other people struggle in real life.

Thasunda Brown Duckett smiling over a colorful background.

Source: Fortune

Duckett’s mission? Break down barriers, foster inclusivity, and redefine the financial landscape for a new generation that will be able to retire thanks to her.

Jane Fraser  – Citigroup

Fraser is the trendsetting CEO at Citigroup, proving that Wall Street isn’t just a boys’ club—it’s a place where diversity is the hottest commodity. She’s not breaking glass ceilings; she’s rebuilding them for a better future.

Jane Fraser posing with a smile and arms crossed on a blue background.

Source: The New York Times

Actually, she’s a HERstory maker, as she’s the first female CEO of a major Wall Street bank! Her story inspires future generations of women in business, and she’s changing the world while adapting the company to her visionary client-centered, empathetic plan.

“Empathy is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it can create a competitive edge.”

Jane Fraser

Carol B. Tomé – UPS

She is the logistics guru at UPS, turning the art of package delivery into a masterpiece of efficiency and sustainability. Because when it comes to shipping, she believes in delivering not just parcels but a greener future.

Carol Tomé standing in front of a UPS wall.

Source: Business Insider

With the amid increase in online shopping, especially during 2020, she refocused the company to be efficient, not only in shipping, but also for the environment!

“Leading today requires grace, humility, empathy, and courage. As a woman, I’m not under any additional pressure than any of my male counterparts.”

Carol B. Tomé

Tricia Griffith – Progressive

We all know our friend Flo, but meet Tricia: the insurance maven at Progressive, who’s making sure coverage is not just a policy but a promise to protect dreams.

Headshot of Tricia Griffith smiling.

Source: Washington Times

She’s been in the company since 1988, and she rose to the top to be the leader she knows employees and customers deserve, being an industry powerhouse since she began her career.

“With the right people, culture, and values, you can accomplish great things. Never stop listening to people at all levels of the company.”

Tricia Griffith

Corie Barry – Best Buy

Barry is the tech-savvy master at Best Buy, handling the gadgets and gizmos that cater to every customer’s whim, making the shopping experience worthwhile. Because who says shopping for electronics can’t be an adventure?

Headshot of Corie Barry wearing the Best Buy polo shirt.

Source: Best Buy Corporate 

The leader of the Geek Squad is responsible for maintaining the company’s title of being #1 provider of technology products in the US, specially during the global pandemic. Her adaptive skills are what make her stand-out in her job!

“[To be successful], make yourself uncomfortable. Take sometimes, the jobs no one else wants.”

Corie Barry

Safra Catz – Oracle

Safra Catz is the tech titan at Oracle, navigating the digital landscape with the finesse of a high-tech boss. She’s not just in the business of software; she’s scripting the code for a future where innovation reigns supreme!

Safra Catz giving a conference.

Source: X

To her, changes are an opportunity to grow, and she has taken the reins of digital transformation, while also being involved in politics as a councilwoman, knowing that effective change comes from the inside.

“I like to say it’s an attitude of not just thinking outside the box, but not even seeing the box. Let your customers be your partners; let your vendors be your employees.”

Safra Catz

Robyn Exton – HER

Robyn is our beloved queen bee at HER, turning an app into a hive of connection and celebration for the LGBTQIA+ community. Because love and acceptance should be as easy to find as a swipe right.

Robyn Exton sitting on the floor and looking at the camera.

Source: Citizen Femme

She has revolutionized the way we date and connect, creating a safe haven for queer folks and growing exponentially, with more than 13 million users finding love, friendship and more!

“Fall in love with your users’ problem, not your solution. Problems will always change and if you’re focussed on that, you’ll always be creating value for your audience.”

Robyn Exton

Fortune 500 companies led by women

If you’re in the business world you’ve probably heard of it, but if not, allow us to explain! Think of the Fortune 500 as the VIP club of American companies, where only the big players get an invite based on their massive earnings. It ranks power, and breaking into it is like winning a golden ticket in the business world. 

Only 10% of the companies included on this list are led by women, and some of them are:

  1. General Motors
    • CEO: Mary Barra 🚗💪
  2. Northrop Grumman
    • CEO: Kathy Warden 🚀🌌
  3. Ventas
    • CEO: Debra Cafaro 🏥💼
  4. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
    • CEO: Lisa Su 🕹️💻
  5. CMS Energy
    • CEO: Patricia Poppe ⚡🔧
  6. Anthem
    • CEO: Gail Boudreaux 🎤🌐
  7. Duke Energy
    • CEO: Lynn Good 💡🔌A
  8. Advanced Systems
    • CEO: Phebe Novakovic 🚀💼
  9. General Dynamics
    • CEO: Phebe Novakovic (Yes, she’s a double threat!) 💪🤖
Woman with her laptop smiling at camera.

So you want to be like these fierce business women? Don’t give up! The world of business, technology, media, and all industries are making space for women like you to head them in the right direction. Go on and make your dreams come true! 

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Renee Fonseca is a bisexual and bilingual writer with experience through multiple digital channels, always embracing her passion for creativity.

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