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The World’s Most Powerful Women 2023

Originally published by Forbes

In the early months of 2023, the ranks of the world’s most powerful women thinned. Between January and April, political leaders Sanna Marin, Jacinda Ardern and Nicola Sturgeon either lost or relinquished their jobs overseeing Finland, New Zealand and Scotland. Susan Wojcicki stepped down as YouTube CEO after nine years at the helm. So did Martina Merz, the chief executive of German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp. Every one of them was replaced by a man.

“You’re not always going to be followed by a woman just because a woman had been in the position,” Hillary Rodham Clinton told Forbes in March. “We still have work to do to [put] women in a position to step into leadership roles.”

When the seasons changed to summer, the story of female power started heating up. In May, Robyn Grew became the first woman to lead the Man Group, a hedge fund with $161 billion in assets and whose name reflects the gender composition of its industry. U.S. Army veteran Debra Crew took the helm of alcohol giant Diageo in June, becoming one of just a handful of female CEOs at the 100 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange. And of course, the triumvirate of Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Barbie sparked billions of dollars of consumer spending. Their influence on consumers was so powerful that Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell addressed it in a July press conference.

As a result of that influence, that trio, including Barbie, have spots on the 2023 list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Swift makes her highest-ever appearance at No. 5, while Beyoncé jumped to No. 36, up from 80 in 2022; Crew debuts at No. 79 and Grew comes in at No. 83. Barbie takes the No. 100 spot, the position allocated every year to a figure that’s not the traditional image of power but one who has, nonetheless, come to define a year.

As ever, the 2023 Power List was determined by four main metrics: money, media, impact and spheres of influence. For political leaders, we weighed gross domestic products and populations; for corporate chiefs, revenues, valuations and employee counts were critical. Media mentions and social reach were analyzed for all. The result: 100 women who are shaping the policies, products and political fights that define our world.

Those fights include reproductive autonomy for women in America; girls’ access to education in Afghanistan and personal rights in Iran; protection against gender-based violence in conflict zones like Ukraine and Gaza; and actionable climate policy that protects the health and well-being of women in lower-income and agriculture-based economies.

“We’re not far enough there anywhere in the world yet,” billionaire philanthropist Melinda French Gates told Forbes. Her prescription for 2024 and beyond is, therefore, a simple one. “It’s when you get women far enough into seats of power in multiple places in the world that things start to change.”

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