The Top 10 Female Fortune 500 CEOs

The Top 10 Female Fortune 500 CEOs main image

The most recent Fortune 500 list features the highest number of female-led companies since its inception: 33, a jump of nine from last year which featured 24. This boost is in part due to several female CEOs being appointed before June 2019, including Northrop Grumman’s Kathy Warden and Best Buy’s Corie Barry. However, there is still a lot of work to be done, as these 33 women represent a disproportionately small number of the list in total, with only 6.6 percent of Fortune 500 companies headed by women.

The continued increase does show progress, with Fortune themselves speculating that the rise in female CEOs is in part due to increased diversity on the board level – 15 years ago women made up 15.7 percent of board seats in the Fortune 500; now it’s 25.5 percent.

Read on to discover the top 10 female CEOs in the most recent Fortune 500 ranking according to where their company ranks in the list…

1) Mary T. Barra

Company: General Motors (GM)

Fortune 500 Rank: 13

Mary Barra first studied at the General Motors Institute, graduating with an electrical engineering degree. However, she also worked for them in 1980 in Detroit where she demonstrated her leadership skills as manager of an assembly plant. She completed her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1990.

Founded in 1908, GM has grown into a multinational corporation that designs and produces vehicles used worldwide. Interestingly, GM is the only car manufacturer whose headquarters remain in Detroit, historically known as the ‘Motor City’.

2) Gail K. Boudreaux

Company: Anthem

Fortune 500 Rank: 33

Born in 1960, Gail Koziara Boudreaux attended Dartmouth College for her BA, where she was also an outstanding player for the Dartmouth Big Greens Women’s basketball team. She completed her MBA at Columbia Business School in 1989.

She worked at various healthcare firms in the US including Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois and UnitedHealthcare, before being appointed CEO of Anthem in 2017. Anthem Inc. is the largest healthcare insurance provider in the US with over 40 million members.

3) Virginia M. Rometty

Company: IBM

Fortune 500 Rank: 38

Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Virginia M. Rometty was born in 1957. She attended Northwestern University from 1975 to 1979, on a scholarship from General Motors, completing a bachelor’s in computer science and electrical engineering. She joined IBM as a systems engineer in 1981, rising through the ranks and holding positions such as the head of global sales, before landing the job of president and CEO in January 2012.

IBM is one of the largest information technology companies in the world, with around 381,000 employees. Despite their headquarters being in New York, around 70 percent of IBM employees are based outside of the US, with the highest percentage in India.

4) Marillyn A. Hewson

Company: Lockheed Martin

Fortune 500 Rank: 60

Marillyn Hewson was born in Kansas in 1953 and attended the University of Alabama for both her bachelor’s in business administration and her master’s in economics. Hewson has also completed executive development programs at Columbia Business School and Harvard Business School. She joined Lockheed Martin over 35 years ago as an industrial engineer. The CEO since 2013, Hewson previously held many other high-level positions at the company, including Senior Vice President of Corporate Shared Services.

Lockheed Martin is the world’s leading arms manufacturer, an American corporation in the aerospace, defense, security, and technologies industry. Their largest contractors are the US government, who make up US$38.4 billion of their annual sales.

5) Corie Barry

Company: Best Buy

Fortune 500 Rank: 74

Originating from Minnesota, 44-year old Corie Barry has bachelor’s degrees from the College of St. Benedict (where she now serves on the board of trustees) in accounting and management. She joined Best Buy in 1999 and has held a number of operational and financial roles across the organization, becoming CFO in 2016 and elected as CEO in 2019.

Best Buy was originally founded in 1966 as a specialty audio store called Sound of Music. It was rebranded in 1983 and now sells a huge variety of consumer electronics. It has stores across the US and Canada, plus several in the UK under the banner of Best Buy Europe.

6) Safra A. Catz

Company: Oracle

Fortune 500 Rank: 81

Safra Catz was born in Holon, Israel, in 1961, moving to the US at the age of six. She earned her bachelor’s degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1983, followed by a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1986. She joined Oracle in 1999, becoming a board member in 2001, and replacing founder Larry Ellison as CEO in 2014.

Founded in 1977, Oracle Corporation is an American multinational technology corporation specializing in database software and technology, cloud engineered systems and enterprise software products.

7) Phebe N. Novakovic

Company: General Dynamics

Fortune 500 Rank: 92

Born in Pennsylvania in 1957, Phebe Novakovic is of Serbian descent. She received her bachelor’s from Smith College in 1979, followed by an MBA from The Wharton School in 1988. Novakovic joined General Dynamics in 2001, becoming CEO in January 2013. Prior to this she had a rich and diverse career history, including a stint as a CIA operative.

General Dynamics is an American aerospace and defense corporation headquartered in Reston, Virginia. It is the fifth-largest defense contractor in the US and the sixth largest in the world by sales.

8) Susan Patricia Griffith

Company: Progressive

Fortune 500 Rank: 99

Susan Patricia (Tricia) Griffith was born in October 1964 in Illinois. She attended Illinois State University for her undergraduate degree and has also completed an advanced management program at The Wharton School. Griffith joined Progressive in 1988 as a claims representative, rising through the ranks before being appointed CEO in July 2016.

The Progressive Corporation is an American insurance company founded nearly a century ago in 1937. It insures motorcycles, boats, RVs and commercial vehicles as well as home insurance. Internationally, it offers car insurance in Australia.

9) Heyward Donigan

Company: Rite Aid

Fortune 500 Rank: 107

Heyward Donigan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Virginia, plus a Master of Public Administration from New York University. She has over 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry; prior to her appointment at Rite Aid she was president and CEO of Sapphire Digital, who design omnichannel platforms to help consumers choose healthcare providers. She was appointed as Rite Aid CEO in 2019.

Rite Aid is a drugstore chain in America, the largest on the East Coast and the third largest in the US. Founded 57 years ago in Scranton, Pennsylvania, it now has 2,466 stores across the country.

10) Kathy J. Warden

Company: Northrop Grumman

Fortune 500 Rank: 108

Kathy J. Warden earned her bachelor’s degree at James Madison University in 1992, and an MBA from George Washington University in 1999. She is an information technology and cybersecurity expert, and has previously worked for General Electric, Veridian Corporation and General Dynamics. Warden joined Northrop Grumman in 2008, serving as vice president of the company’s cybersecurity business before being appointed as CEO in 2019.

Northrop Grumman is an American global aerospace and defense technology company. They recently developed the award-winning X-47B, the world’s first unmanned, autonomous air system operating from an aircraft carrier.

Written by Julia Gilmore

Julia is a writer for TopMBA.com, publishing articles for business students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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