Nearly half of 'World's Greatest Leaders' are women

By Jena McGregor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is No. 2 on the annual ranking. Photo / AP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is No. 2 on the annual ranking. Photo / AP

Fortune Magazine released its third annual list of the World's Greatest Leaders, and for the first time, the list of 50 CEOs, heads of state, activists and other leaders is nearly half women - there are 23 this year, compared with 15 last year and 19 in 2014.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is No. 2 on the annual ranking, followed by Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar.

Three other women round out the top 10, including Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (No. 7), Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (No. 9) and Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of Bangladesh (No. 10).

While the magazine doesn't offer an explanation for the growth in women on the list other than to note "there's a noticeable groundswell behind women fighting to advance other women," the women on the list come from many fields, including social activism (Black Lives Matter co-founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi at No.

27), the military (U.S. Army Rangers Kristen Griest and Shaye Haver at No. 34) and the foundation world (Melinda Gates and Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellman are No. 41).

One notable woman missing from the list is Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race. Then again, neither are any of her fellow candidates.

"That's not an accident," wrote Fortune editor Alan Murray. "The U.S. political system is broken, and we see little reason to think the current contenders can fix it."

There are, however, more U.S. elected officials than there have been in the past, from governors Nikki Haley (No. 17) and Gina Raimondo (No. 38) to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (No. 8). "While unyielding in their competing worldviews," Murray wrote of Ryan and Justice Ginsburg, "they each have that key quality of empathy essential for today's challenges."

And what about the business leaders? This year's No. 1 is Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, who also owns The Washington Post. Fortune's Adam Lashinsky writes not only about his success at Amazon, but how as the owner of The Post and a financier of space projects, he's taking on a broader leadership role.

Apple's Tim Cook, who led last year's list, is at No. 5, and Huateng "Pony" Ma, CEO of China's Tencent, is No. 12. Only three other Fortune 500 chief executives make the list: J.C. Penney's Marvin Ellison, BlackRock's Larry Fink, and Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff.

- Washington Post

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