Women today are in positions of greater power, in a wider variety of fields, than ever before. Here are 10 American women who are shaping the world today.
Condoleezza Rice, United States secretary of state.
As national security adviser during George W. Bush’s first term, Rice soon established herself as a trusted member of the president’s inner circle. Her position in Bush’s second term, as a wartime secretary of state, will cement her place in the history books.
Karen Hughes, political adviser.
A key aide to George W. Bush, Hughes has been described as the most powerful women ever to serve in the White House. Hughes has served as chief architect of the president’s communications strategy since his 1994 campaign for governor of Texas. She left public life to spend time with her family in Austin, Texas, in 2002, but in 2004 she returned to plan the Republican National Convention and the endgame of the 2004 campaign.
Nancy Pelosi, minority leader, U.S. House of Representatives.
As leader of the House Democrats, Pelosi is the first woman ever to lead a political party in Congress. She has been an outspoken critic of Bush administration policies in Iraq, saying in response to the president’s 2004 State of the Union address, “America must be a light to the world, not just a missile.” Her role positions her to help define a new generation of party leadership.
Sandra Day O’Connor, U.S. Supreme Court justice.
O’Connor began her Supreme Court career in 1981 as a strong conservative, but her subsequent move toward the center established her as a wildcard on a court sharply divided between conservatives and liberals. O’Connor is the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, but has said, “The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. senator.
Clinton is the only former first lady ever to become a United States senator. She represents New York, the nation’s third most populous state, and her prominence is growing in a Democratic Party that is seeking to redefine itself after suffering setbacks in the 2004 general election.
Margaret “Meg” Whitman, president and chief executive, eBay.
To the fledgling online company, Whitman brought deep “traditional” business experience from corporations including Procter & Gamble, Walt Disney Company, and Hasbro. Since being named president and CEO in 1998, Whitman has grown revenues and solidified eBay’s dominance in the fiercely competitive online auction space.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court justice.
After graduating from Columbia University at the top of her class, Ginsburg struggled to find a job in the traditionally male legal profession. Her experiences helped to shape a career often devoted to ending institutionalized discrimination against women.
Anne Sweeney, cochair of media networks, the Walt Disney Company; president, Disney-ABC Television Group.
Sweeney achieved a high profile for jump-starting the struggling Disney Channel, quadrupling its subscriber base. Her success at ABC Television has been no less dramatic. Since Sweeney became president in 2004, the previously last-place network has climbed into frequent contention for the top spot in terms of viewership.
Oprah Winfrey, media executive and personality.
When her talk show was picked up for national syndication in 1986, Winfrey made the fateful decision to form her own production company and take over distribution rights, and a media empire was born. Her book club became the most powerful force in the publishing world; the “Oprah effect” instantly placed her choices atop national bestseller lists. In 2004 Forbes estimated her net worth at over $1 billion.
Martha Stewart, media executive and personality.
Stewart built a media empire on her expertise in cooking, gardening, and home improvement. In 1999, Stewart consolidated her expansive television and print enterprises to form Omnimedia, a corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Omnimedia weathered her five-month incarceration in 2004-2005, stemming from a dubious stock trade. With Stewart’s track record of professional evolution–from model to stockbroker to caterer to media executive–expect the next chapter of Stewart’s career to be at least as interesting as those that came before.