The World’s Most Powerful Women

Forbes's definitive 2023 ranking

10. Melinda French Gates

Cochair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
United States

Melinda French Gates is one of the most powerful women in philanthropy, as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In May 2021, Bill and Melinda Gates announced they were getting divorced but will still remain co-chairs of the foundation.

After they announced the divorce, Bill transferred at least $5 billion worth of stock in various public companies to Melinda.

As part of the foundation's mission to help all people lead healthy, productive lives, she has devoted much of her work to women's and girls' rights.

In her next chapter, Melinda French Gates' mission is to close the funding gap for female founders through her investment and incubation company, Pivotal Ventures.

9. Mary Barra

CEO, General Motors
United States

GM's CEO since 2014, Barra is the first woman to lead one of the big three automakers in the U.S.Barra has invested billions in electric vehicles, self-driving cars and a ride-share service called Maven.

Barra first started working at GM in 1980 as a student in their co-op program. The first division she worked under was Pontiac Motors.

She is the chair of the Business Roundtable, a collection of America's most powerful corporate CEOs. Barra also sits on the board of directors for the Walt Disney Company.

8. Abigail Johnson

Chairman & CEO, Fidelity
United States

Abigail Johnson has served as CEO of Fidelity Investments since 2014, when she took over for her father, and has been chairman since 2016.

Her grandfather, Edward Johnson II, founded the Boston-based mutual fund giant in 1946.

She owns an estimated 28.5% stake of the firm, which as of September 2023 manages discretionary assets totaling $4.5 trillion.

Johnson has embraced cryptocurrencies and, in 2018, Fidelity launched a platform that allows institutional investors to trade bitcoin and ether.

She worked summers at Fidelity through college and joined full-time as an analyst in 1988 after receiving a Harvard M.B.A.

7. Jane Fraser

CEO, Citi
United States

Longtime Citigroup executive Jane Fraser was named as CEO Michael Corbat's successor in 2020; she officially assumed the role in March 2021.

As Citi's first female CEO in history, she is also the first-ever woman to run a major Wall Street bank.

Prior to being named the company's CEO, Fraser served as president of Citigroup and CEO of Global Consumer Banking.

Since joining Citi in 2004, she's led multiple groups, including corporate strategy and mergers and acquisitions during the financial crisis.

6. Karen Lynch

United States

Lynch ascended to the top role at the 300,000-person health services company in February 2021.

She joined CVS as its executive vice president when it completed its $70 billion acquisition of Aetna in 2018.

In 2023, Lynch spearheaded acquisitions of primary care provider Oak Street Health and home health care specialist Signify Health for $10 billion and $8 billion, respectively.

Lynch is a member of the Business Roundtable, the World Economic Forum Global Coalition for Value in Healthcare Executive Board, and is also part of the Boston College Women's Council.

She began her career with Ernst & Young as a certified public accountant.

5. Taylor Swift

United States

Taylor Swift became a billionaire in October 2023, thanks to the earnings from her Eras tour and the value of her music catalog.

Swift is the first musician to make the ranks solely based on her songs and performances.

Her fortune includes more than $500 million in estimated wealth amassed from royalties and touring, plus a music catalog worth $500 million and some $125 million in real estate.

In 2021, Swift began releasing re-records of her first six albums in order to regain their ownership rights.

Demand for tickets to her 2023 Eras Tour overwhelmed Ticketmaster, prompting members of Congress to question the company's hold on concert sales.

4. Giorgia Meloni

Prime Minister

On October 22, 2022, Giorgia Meloni took office as Italy's prime minister, becoming the first woman in history to hold the role.

Meloni is also the president of Italy's right-wing Brothers of Italy party. She assumed that office in March 2014.

At 15, she joined the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement, a party that was founded by supporters of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and which has been described as "neo-fascist."

"Yes to natural families, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology," she said in a June 2022 speech, leading to fear that her election will erode women's and LGBTQ rights.

In November of 2023, she backed a constitutional reform proposal that would allow for the direct election of the prime minister. She called it an effort to reduce Italy's political instability.

Kamala Harris

Vice President
United States

On January 20, 2021, Harris became the first woman, the first Black person, and the first South Asian-American to become U.S. vice president.

She's no stranger to firsts: In 2016, Harris was the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the United States Senate.

And in 2010, Harris became the first African-American and first woman to serve as California's attorney general.

Harris is a California native; she was born in Oakland to immigrant parents (her mom was from India and her dad was from Jamaica).

As a Howard University alumna, Harris is the first graduate of a historically Black college or university to hold the vice presidency.

Christine Lagarde

President, European Central Bank

Lagarde became the first woman to head the European Central Bank on November 1, 2019.

As head of European monetary policy, Lagarde faces a critical test: ensuring economic growth in a high-inflation environment.

From 2011 until mid-2019, Lagarde ran the International Monetary Fund that works to ensure the stability of the global monetary system.

She was the first woman to hold that position.

In analyzing the 2008 financial crisis, Lagarde has pointed to "groupthink" in the male-dominated industry and called for gender reform.

Ursula von der Leyen

President, European Commission, European Union

Ursula von der Leyen was appointed president of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, in July 2019.

She is the first woman to serve in the role, which is responsible for legislation affecting more than 450 million Europeans.

From 2005 until 2019, von der Leyen served in Angela Merkel's cabinet--the longest tenure of any cabinet member.

For the last six years of her time in the cabinet, she was Germany's defense minister.

She spearheaded a 750 billion euro Covid relief bill in 2020 and, in 2022, became one of the West's staunchest supporters of Ukraine amid Russia's unprovoked invasion.

Watch Next