10 most powerful women in the world

By Marilynn McLachlan

Michelle Obama, Angela Merkel, Dilma Rousseff and Virginia Rometty all make Forbes' top 10 list. Photos / AP, Getty
Michelle Obama, Angela Merkel, Dilma Rousseff and Virginia Rometty all make Forbes' top 10 list. Photos / AP, Getty

This week saw the release of Forbes magazine's annual list of The World's Most Powerful Women. It features top women across a range of disciplines including business, politics and activism.

Today we look at the top 10 'Most Powerful Women in the World' according to Forbes magazine.

1. Angela Merkel


Angela Merkel. Photo / AP

Angela Merkel has topped the Forbes list seven times in the last eight years, and she does it again in 2014. The 59-year-old has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005 and an original founding influence of the European Union, receiving the Vision for Europe Award for her contribution. She has a string of other awards from many countries, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and India's Jawaharial Nehru Award for International Understanding.

Read more:
Helen Clark drops down Forbes' most powerful women list

2. Janet Yellen


Janet Yellen. Photo / AP

In February this year, Yellen became the first woman to hold the position of Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System after four years as Vice Chair. The 67-year-old has a Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University, as well honorary doctorates from Brown and Bard College. She will receive one from the London School of Economics later this year. She is known for her concern about unemployment and its effects of hardship and stress on families.

3. Melinda Gates


Melinda Gates. Photo / AP

She's been honoured with an Order of the British Empire and is the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation is guided by the belief that every life has equal value and it has set up programs to improve global health, particularly for women and children. The 49-year-old and her husband Bill Gates were named Time magazine's Persons of the Year along with Bono. She has an honorary degree from the University of Cambridge and an honorary doctorate from Duke University.

4. Dilma Rousseff


Dilma Rousseff. Photo / AP

The first woman president of Brazil, she fought against the military dictatorship during the 1960s before being arrested, jailed and tortured between 1970 and 1972. The 66-year-old has changed her political views from Marxism to capitalism and advocates for women's rights. In 2009 she was the first woman to open a session of the United Nations General Assembly. She has received awards from both Bulgaria and Spain.

5. Christine Lagarde


Christine Lagarde. Photo / AP

She's the first woman to ever hold the position of Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund - an organisation of 188 countries that works to foster global monetary cooperation. A lawyer, politician and an economist, the 58-year-old holds two Master's degrees as well as an honorary doctorate from a Belgium university.

6. Hillary Clinton


Hillary Clinton. Photo / AP

Hillary Clinton holds a law degree from Yale University, as well as many honorary doctorates. She is well-known for her foray in politics, as the former US Secretary of State, the first and only female senator in New York and previously as the First Lady to President Bill Clinton. The 66-year-old is expected to stand for presidency in the 2016 US elections and has a memoir, Hard Choices, due to be released in the next few weeks. The initial print run of one million copies has already sold out.

7. Mary Barra


Mary Barra. Photo / AP

The first female CEO of a major global automaker, Mary Barra was appointed to CEO of General Motors in January of this year. The 52-year-old began working at the company when she was 18 and holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in electrical engineering and holds an MBA.

8. Michelle Obama


Michelle Obama. Photo / AP

Presently the First Lady of the US, Michelle Obama is a lawyer and writer who is passionate about healthy lifestyles, battling childhood obesity and raising poverty awareness. She also advocates for LGBT rights. The 50-year-old holds a law degree from Harvard, and has become a powerful role model for girls and women around the world.

9. Sheryl Sandberg


Sheryl Sandberg. Photo / AP

Sheryl Sandberg holds an MBA from Harvard, has worked at Google and was responsible for turning Facebook into a money-making venture from 2008 to 2010. She shows no sign of slowing down. Last year Sandberg inspired women around the world with her book Lean IN: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which also has a movie deal with Sony Pictures. She has featured on other 'top' lists, including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Time magazine.

Watch: Sheryl Sandberg's TED talk, "Why we have too few women leaders"

10. Virginia Rometty


Virginia Rometty. Photo / Getty Images

Virginia Rometty was the first female CEO of IBM with a bachelor's degree in computer science and electrical engineering who began her working life at General Motors. The 56-year-old is known for her management style and what she calls "strategic belief". In an interview with CNN she said "most of us have workforces that are very bright, very intelligent, that want to be engaged in a broad way. This idea of a strategic belief is saying that you can agree amongst the firm for the future, on some really big arcs of change, I would call them."

Next story: The secrets of our highest-performing low decile schools

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