Leading from the front

FT writers and editors pick their most influential women of the past 10 years across the globe, from Nobel prize-winning scientists to political activists and technology tycoons.


Hillary Clinton

New York senator, presidential contender, secretary of state

Sonia Gandhi

President of the Indian National Congress Party and dynastic head

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

President of Liberia and first African female head of state

Angela Merkel

Chancellor of Germany and former chair of the G8

Aung San Suu Kyi

Burmese politician and former political prisoner


Indra Nooyi

Chairman/chief executive of PepsiCo

Dame Anita Roddick (d)

Founder of The Body Shop, entrepreneur and ethical campaigner

Sherron Watkins

Former Enron vice-president turned whistleblower

Meg Whitman

Former chief executive of Ebay who blazed a trail for e-commerce

Hu Xiaolian

Deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China. Responsible for renminbi internationalisation


Louise Bourgeois (d)

French-American artist and sculptor known for her spider structures

Marlene Dumas

South African artist who specialises in representations of the human body

Tracey Emin

Young British artist who makes art out of her personal history

Annette de la Renta

Vice-chairman, Metropolitan Museum, New York

Marian Goodman

New York gallerist bringing European art to Americans


Elizabeth Blackburn

Won 2009 Nobel prize for work on ageing and cancer

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Astrophysicist who discovered the first pulsar (rotating neutron star)

Dame Jane Goodall

Groundbreaking primatologist and chimpanzee champion

Susan Greenfield

Britain’s most controversial female scientist

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard

Nobel prize-winner for her work on embryonic development


Yelena Isinbayeva

Russian pole-vaulter who won Olympic golds in 2004 and 2008

Paula Radcliffe

Long-distance runner who has won eight marathons

Annika Sörenstam

Holds more tournament titles than any other female golfer

Marta Vieira da Silva

Star football forward on Brazil’s national team

Serena Williams

Tennis champion with 27 Grand Slam wins and two Olympic golds



Moved from girl group to soloist, picking up 16 Grammys en route

Tina Fey

American actress, comic and Sarah Palin-impersonator

Jade Goody (d)

Icon of reality television

Angelina Jolie

One Oscar, three Golden Globes, massive Hollywood clout

Hannah Montana

Tween idol and model of media distribution


Carol Bartz

Outspoken Yahoo CEO who has sat on Intel and Cisco boards

Carly Fiorina

Head of Hewlett-Packard, 1999-2005

Marissa Mayer

The youngest member of Google’s executive committee

Sheryl Sandberg

Number two at Facebook is Zuckerberg’s closest business confidante

Padmasree Warrior

Chief technology officer and probable heir apparent at Cisco


Michiko Kakutani

Pulitzer prize-winning critic for The New York Times

Hilary Mantel

Queen of historical fiction. Winner of the 2009 Man Booker prize

Stephenie Meyer

Bestselling author of the Twilight vampire romance series

Gail Rebuck

Chairman and chief executive of the Random House Group

J. K. Rowling

Revolutionised children’s literature with Harry Potter


Neda Agha-Soltan (d)

Iranian student killed in post-election protests in 2009

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Activist and author who criticised Islam in her 2006 memoir Infidel

Zaha Hadid

The world’s most successful female architect

Kate Middleton

Now the official royal bride-in-waiting after years of expectation

Sarah Palin

Darling of the US Tea Party, scourge of the left and 2012 contender


Michelle Obama

First lady and fashion role model

Sarah Jessica Parker

Starred in Sex and the City – and changed the shoe industry

Phoebe Philo

Céline’s creative director defined the current drive for minimalism

Kate Moss

The ultimate mirror of fashion’s obsessions and model-as-brand

Anna Wintour

Editor of US Vogue. Arguably fashion’s most influential woman

Nominated by: Rosie Blau, Clive Cookson, James Crabtree, Jan Dalley, Vanessa Friedman, David Gelles, Andrew Hill, Simon Kuper, Joseph Menn, Chris Nuttall, Rebecca Rose, Alec Russell, Richard Waters and FT Weekend Magazine staff

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.