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Women's History Month 2015

Each year, more women rise to positions of executive power in the workplace. Below, we recognize distinguished businesswomen, CEOs, and others with professional achievements that have made the Forbes magazine list of the world’s most powerful women.

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Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde is the first female managing director of the 188-country International Monetary Fund. She has spent much of her first two years on the job battling the debt crisis in Europe and calling for ailing global economies to accelerate steps for stable growth. Her push for debt-sharing between EU nations and an increase in rescue funds has faced resistance from fellow powerful woman Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany. Before her appointment at the IMF, she served as France’s Trade Minister between 2005 and 2007. In 2007, she became the first woman to hold the post of Finance and Economy Minister of a G-7 country (U.S., Japan, France, Germany, Italy, U.K., and Canada). She is a former member of the French national synchronized swimming team and is the mother of two sons.


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Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi is the CEO of PepsiCo and a strong supporter of woman and minorities in the workplace. In speeches she gives, she emphasizes to the audience how “if you are a woman and especially a person of color, there are two strikes against you.” At the age of 23, Nooyi left India to study at Yale, where she worked as a receptionist from midnight to 5am to help pay her tuition. She worked for Johnson & Johnson and Motorola before joining PepsiCo in 1994. After reaching the top, she is eager to help other women and minorities up the ladder: “There’s a lot society can do. Flextime. Leave policies when women give birth. We need women in the companies, some of the brightest candidates are women. We need to help them balance.” Under her tenure, PepsiCo’s annual revenues have risen 72%, while net profit more than doubled.


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Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson is the first female Executive Editor of the New York Times in the organization’s 162-year history. Despite the decline of print media, the NYT still has as average circulation of over 1.6 million for weekday editions and is increasing from previous years. In the past, she worked for the Wall Street Journal as an investigative reporter and a deputy bureau chief. After the appointment of Katie Couric as an anchor of CBS evening News, Abramson commented: “This is yet another transitional moment for professional women. There will now be a female solo anchor. But there are still few women successfully leading the cornerstone institutions of our society.” She has authored several books and has two children.


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Margaret Chan

Margaret Chan is the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and is the most powerful person in global public health. She was born in China and attended medical school in Canada and was eventually appointed Director of Health of Hong Kong. In her nine-year tenure as director, there she launched new services to prevent the spread of disease and promote better health. She also introduced new initiatives to improve communicable disease surveillance and response, enhance training for public health professionals, and establish better local and international collaboration. Chan joined WHO in 2003 and became Director-General within three years. She is now in her second term and will serve until June 2017. She considers “improvements in the health of the people of Africa and the health of women” to be the essential to improving global health.


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Fabiola Gianotti

Fabiola Gianotti is an Italian particle physicist, a former spokesperson of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, considered one of the world's biggest scientific experiments. She made particularly important contributions to a piece of hardware known as the liquid-argon calorimeter, which detects electromagnetic energy.


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