Meet The Top 10 Influential Women Shaping Society

Komal Sharma

Last Updated: February 23, 2024
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Women in today’s society have achieved remarkable accomplishments across different sectors, shattering stereotypes and leaving their imprint on industries that were once dominated by men. Not only have these women attained immense success in their own careers, but they have also become beacons of inspiration, forging a path for future generations of women to follow. This article seeks to recognise and honour the exceptional achievements of the ten most influential women globally. Let’s take a closer look.

To compile the list of the world’s most powerful women, various factors were considered, including influence, impact, and achievements. These women have not only excelled in their respective fields but have also used their positions to drive positive change and challenge the status quo. They have broken barriers, shattered glass ceilings, and become role models for future generations of women.

Ginny Rometty

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Early Life And Education 

Ginni Rometty’s life started in a middle-class family, but when she was 16, her father left, leaving her family struggling. Her determined mom went back to school and worked hard to support them. Ginni faced financial challenges but graduated top of her high school class with a scholarship.

She attended Northwestern University, one of the few women in the engineering programme. After graduating in 1979, she worked for General Motors and later joined IBM as a systems engineer. Ginni faced impostor syndrome but overcame it, taking on a challenging job. In 2012, she made history as IBM’s first woman CEO. Ginny Rometty started as a regular employee at IBM and worked her way up. In 2012, she became the CEO, making history as the first woman in charge.


Ginni Rometty’s career is defined by her long and influential tenure at IBM, where she held several key positions before becoming the company’s CEO. Her career path highlights her exceptional leadership skills, her strategic thinking, and her dedication to driving innovation in the technology sector.

Under her leadership, Rometty led IBM’s transition from a traditional hardware and software provider to a leading company in cognitive solutions and cloud platforms. He spearheaded initiatives focused on artificial intelligence, data analytics, and cloud computing, positioning IBM as a key player in these emerging technologies. Rometty’s strategic vision and commitment to innovation helped shape IBM’s future direction and cemented his position as a global leader in the technology industry.

Her Influence On Society 

Ginni Rometty’s legacy is marked by her transformative leadership and significant contributions to the technology industry, especially during her tenure as CEO of IBM. Her visionary approach, her strategic thinking, and her commitment to innovation have left a lasting impact on the company and the business world at large. One of Rometty’s most significant achievements is his role in leading the transformation of IBM from a traditional hardware and software company to a global leader in cognitive solutions and cloud computing. She recognised the need to adapt to the rapidly evolving technology landscape and placed IBM at the forefront of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing. 

Rometty’s strategic initiatives and investments in these areas have helped IBM remain competitive and relevant in the digital Era. Beyond her impact at IBM, Rometty’s legacy extends to her advocacy for women in technology and leadership roles. She has been a strong advocate for gender equality and has used her platform to inspire and encourage women to pursue careers in STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Rometty’s achievements and her visibility as a successful female leader have served as an inspiration to aspiring women leaders around the world.

Gwynne Shotwell

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Early Life And Education 

Born on November 23, 1963, in Illinois, U.S. Shotwell grew up with a natural curiosity about the world and a keen interest in science and engineering. She embarked on his educational journey by enrolling at Northwestern University, a prestigious institution known for its strong engineering programmes. Shotwell earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and graduated in 1986. His engineering experience proved instrumental in her future endeavours.


Gwynne Shotwell, a former executive at The Aerospace Corporation, has been instrumental in shaping the trajectory of SpaceX, a leading aerospace manufacturer and space transportation company. She began her career in 1988, specialising in military space research and development. Shotwell’s leadership at SpaceX was marked by securing critical contracts and partnerships, including with NASA, which helped the company develop and launch innovative spacecraft and rockets. Under her leadership, SpaceX achieved historic milestones, including the first privately funded spacecraft to reach orbit and the first privately funded spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station. In 2008, she was promoted to the position of president and chief operating officer (COO) of SpaceX, where she played a vital role in ensuring the success of SpaceX missions.

Her Influence On Society

Gwynne Shotwell, the President and COO of SpaceX, has made a big impact not just in space stuff but also for women. She’s a leader in a field where there aren’t many women, showing that anyone can do anything they’re passionate about. Her success not only helps space exploration but also encourages more girls and women to get into science and tech. So, she’s not just changing space; she’s inspiring a whole bunch of people to reach for the stars, no matter who they are.

Christine Lagarde

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Early Life And Education

Christine Lagarde was born in Paris, France, in 1956, into a family of academics. Her father was a professor of English, and her mother was a Latin and ancient Greek teacher. Growing up in an intellectually stimulating environment, Lagarde developed a passion for learning and academic achievement from an early age.


Lagarde began her professional journey as a lawyer, specialising in labour law. She quickly gained recognition for her expertise, leading her to become the first female chairman of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie. In 2005, she entered the world of finance and politics by joining the French government as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Her career trajectory took a significant turn in 2007 when she became the first woman to serve as France’s Minister of Finance.

Her Influence On Society

Christine Lagarde, as a prominent figure in the financial and political world, has had a notable impact on both society and women. Serving as the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and later as the President of the European Central Bank, Lagarde has played a crucial role in shaping global economic policies. Her leadership has influenced financial stability, international cooperation, and economic development, contributing to the well-being of societies worldwide.

In terms of gender impact, Lagarde has been an advocate for women’s empowerment in the workplace. Throughout her career, she has emphasised the importance of diversity and gender equality. Lagarde’s positions in influential financial institutions have provided her with a platform to address gender issues, promoting initiatives that aim to close gender gaps in the workforce and encourage women to pursue careers in finance and economics. Her advocacy underscores the broader societal significance of achieving gender equality and fostering inclusivity in leadership roles.

Kamala Harris

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Early Life And Education

Kamala Devi Harris was born in Oakland, CA in 1964. Her parents divorced when she was seven, and she moved to Montreal with her mother and sister at age 12. She organised a successful protest against the owner of their apartment building who wouldn’t let children play on the building’s lawn. Harris dreamed of becoming a lawyer and earned a B.A. in political science and economics from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law.


Kamala Harris became the first Black and South Asian American Attorney General of California in 2010. She launched the “Back on Track” initiative to cut recidivism through job training and other programmes for low-level offenders. Harris withdrew from settlement negotiations with five of the country’s largest financial institutions for improper mortgage practices. She created Open Justice as Attorney General, an online platform that makes criminal justice data available to the public at large. Harris also presided over the creation of Operation Boo, a mandatory curfew for all homeless sex offenders on Halloween. As a U.S. Senator for California, she supported a single-payer healthcare system and introduced legislation to provide financial relief to those facing rising housing costs.

Her Influence On Society

Kamala Harris, as Vice President, is a big deal for both society and women. She’s the first female vice president in the U.S., showing that women can reach top positions. Her role inspires other women and girls to aim high and break barriers. Harris focuses on important issues like fairness, education, and fixing the justice system. As a person of African American and South Asian descent, she brings diverse viewpoints to leadership, making sure different voices are heard. Overall, Kamala Harris is making a positive impact on how our society works and encouraging more opportunities for women.

Mary Barra 

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Early Life And Education

Mary Teresa Barra is an American businesswoman and the first female Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the US-based automobile manufacturer General Motors since January 15, 2014. Following her appointment, Barra was ranked in the TIME’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ list of 2014 and was positioned first in the Fortune’s ‘Most Powerful Women’ list in 2015. Mary Barra is of Finnish descent and was born on December 24, 1961, in Michigan, United States. Barra is married to an engineering consultant Anthony Barra. The couple has two children — Rachel and Nicholas Barra. Her brother Paul Makela serves as the Director of Gynecological Robotic Surgery at St. Mary Mercy Hospital.


Mary Barra’s career is a remarkable journey. Mary Barra graduated from Waterford Mott High School and received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Kettering University. Starting as an intern at General Motors (GM), she steadily climbed the corporate ladder. Known for her dedication and strategic mindset, Barra held various leadership roles in engineering, manufacturing, and product development.

In 2014, she made history by becoming the first female CEO of a major automaker, taking the helm at General Motors. Barra’s leadership has been marked by a keen focus on innovation, particularly in the realm of electric vehicles, and a strong commitment to sustainability. Under her guidance, General Motors has embraced a future-oriented vision for mobility.

Her Influence On Society

Mary Barra, as the first woman to lead a major car company, is not just driving General Motors; she’s steering change for all of us. Her story inspires women, showing that the road to success is open to everyone. By focusing on new ideas like electric cars and sustainability, Barra isn’t just running a company; she’s shaping the future of how we get around. Her journey teaches us that anyone, regardless of gender, can be a leader and make a real impact on the world. Barra’s inclusive leadership style and ability to connect employees with the company’s vision have resulted in motivated and passionate teams. 

Indra Nooyi

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Early Life And Education

Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi was born on October 28, 1955, in Chennai, India. Her early years in a middle-class family taught her the values of hard work, determination, and the importance of education. Nooyi’s upbringing highlights the significance of a strong foundation rooted in values and a hunger for knowledge, which are invaluable qualities for aspiring corporate leaders. Nooyi’s journey towards leadership began with a commitment to education. She pursued a bachelor’s degree in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics from Madras Christian College and later earned an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. Her dedication to education and continuous learning serves as a vital lesson for corporate leaders in today’s dynamic and ever-changing business landscape.


Indra nooyi was Originally from India, she moved to the U.S. for education. In 1994, she joined PepsiCo and quickly rose to become Chief Financial Officer in 2001, playing a key role in the company’s financial success. In 2006, Nooyi made history as the first woman and immigrant to lead PepsiCo as its CEO. She focused on making PepsiCo’s product range more diverse and healthier while championing sustainability. Her leadership, marked by innovation and corporate responsibility, broke barriers for women and immigrants. Nooyi left PepsiCo in 2018, leaving behind a legacy of transformative leadership and paving the way for more diversity in corporate leadership. Her story is a testament to breaking barriers and making a lasting impact. Her journey underscores the significance of diverse experiences and a willingness to embrace new challenges in achieving professional success.

Her Influence On Society

Beyond her role at PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi has been actively involved in philanthropic efforts. Her commitment to social responsibility is a reminder for corporate leaders of the importance of giving back to society and making a positive impact beyond profits. Nooyi’s leadership extends beyond the boardroom, serving as a model of how corporate leaders can use their influence for the greater good. Her qualities of resilience, education, diplomacy, innovation, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion are timeless virtues that can inspire and guide today’s corporate leaders. In an era marked by constant change and evolving challenges, Nooyi’s journey serves as a beacon of inspiration—a reminder that leadership is about embracing diversity, fostering innovation, and making a positive impact in the world. Indra Nooyi stands as a testament to the power of determination, resilience, and visionary leadership in achieving success and leaving a lasting legacy.

Angela Merkel

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Early Life And Education

Angela Merkel’s early life took shape in Hamburg, where she was born on July 17, 1954. However, her family eventually moved to East Germany. Merkel pursued higher education and earned a doctorate in quantum chemistry from the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences in East Berlin. Her political journey began with the winds of change in 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell, marking a pivotal moment in history. Merkel’s entrance into politics was anything but ordinary, and it set the stage for her remarkable leadership in the years to come. Quite a journey from the world of quantum chemistry to the political stage


Angela Merkel’s career is marked by significant milestones. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, she entered politics, joining the Democratic Awakening. Merkel later became the Minister for Women and Youth and the Minister for the Environment. In 2000, she made history as the first woman to lead the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Merkel served as the Chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021, playing a key role in European and global politics with her pragmatic leadership. Her enduring legacy is characterised by stability and resilience.

Her Influence On Society

Angela Merkel made a big difference for people, especially women. She was the first woman to lead Germany, showing that women can be powerful leaders too. Her way of leading, being practical and strong, has inspired many people around the world. She also did a good job managing tough situations, like the global financial crisis. Her focus on working together and finding solutions has made Germany and Europe more stable. Merkel cared about important issues like climate change and migration, and her approach to these problems showed other leaders how to handle tough challenges.

In simple words, Angela Merkel not only did well in politics but also showed that women can be leaders and make a positive impact on the world.

Sara Blakely

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Early Life And Education

Sara Blakely, born on February 27, 1971, in Clearwater, Florida, is the founder of Spanx, a popular shapewear brand. Growing up, she worked at Disneyland and later attended Florida State University. While at college, Sara studied communications and was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. Despite facing some challenges, including not doing well on the LSAT (law school admission test), Sara Blakely’s determination and creativity eventually led her to found Spanx, becoming a successful entrepreneur.


Sara Blakely’s career is marked by creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Beginning with her time at Disneyland, she later pursued a degree in communications at Florida State University. The turning point came when Sara, dissatisfied with the available options, founded Spanx. This innovative shapewear not only addressed a common discomfort but also revolutionised the industry, making her a successful entrepreneur. Sara Blakely’s career is a witness of her ability to identify gaps, think outside the box, and create solutions that resonate with people.

Her Influence On Society

Sara Blakely has made a significant impact on both society and women. As the founder of Spanx, she not only revolutionised the undergarment industry but also influenced how women perceived and embraced their bodies. Spanx provided a comfortable and confidence-boosting alternative, challenging traditional notions of beauty. Blakely’s success as a self-made entrepreneur has become an inspiration for many, demonstrating that determination and innovative thinking can lead to extraordinary achievements. Her story encourages women to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations and break through societal expectations.

Moreover, by creating a product that promotes comfort and self-assurance, Sara Blakely has played a role in fostering positive body image and empowering women to feel good about themselves. In essence, her impact extends beyond the business realm, influencing societal perceptions and contributing to the empowerment of women.

Frida Kahlo

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Early Life And Education

Frida Kahlo, born on July 6, 1907, in Coyoacan, Mexico, had a colourful early life. Despite facing health challenges due to polio and a bus accident, she developed a passion for art. Kahlo attended the National Preparatory School in Mexico City, where her interest in politics and art flourished. Her time there laid the foundation for her artistic journey and her later association with fellow artist Diego Rivera, whom she married. Despite health setbacks, Kahlo’s resilience and artistic talent paved the way for her iconic contributions to the art world.


Frida Kahlo’s career as an artist was marked by her unique style and personal expression. She began painting after a bus accident left her with severe injuries. Her works, often self-portraits, delved into her physical and emotional pain, showcasing a raw and introspective approach. Kahlo’s career gained recognition in the 1930s, and she became associated with the Surrealist movement. Her art, however, defied easy categorisation, as it blended traditional Mexican folk elements with surrealist and modernist influences.

Marriage to fellow artist Diego Rivera influenced her work and brought her into intellectual and artistic circles. Despite health struggles, Kahlo’s impact on the art world has endured, making her a symbol of resilience and a feminist icon. Her legacy continues to inspire artists and admirers worldwide.

Her Influence On Society

Frida Kahlo had a profound impact on both society and women. Through her art, she gave a voice to her physical and emotional struggles, challenging societal norms and expectations. Kahlo’s unapologetic exploration of pain, identity, and femininity made her a symbol of resilience and authenticity.

In the context of women’s rights and empowerment, Kahlo’s work and life story became a source of inspiration. Her bold self-portraits and portrayal of female experiences resonated with many, encouraging women to embrace their individuality and confront challenges with strength. Beyond the canvas, Kahlo’s involvement in political and social causes, along with her open discussions about gender roles, helped pave the way for a more inclusive and progressive society. She remains a cultural icon, celebrated for her contribution to art and her impact on breaking stereotypes surrounding women’s creativity and expression.

Malala Yousafzai

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Early Life And Education

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. She liked learning, but the Taliban didn’t let girls go to school. Her dad, who loved education too, encouraged her to speak up. In 2009, Malala wrote a blog about life under the Taliban. This made her well-known. Sadly, the Taliban tried to hurt her in 2012 because she wanted girls to go to school. But she survived. Malala then went to school in the United Kingdom. Now, she talks around the world about why girls should have the right to education. She even got a big prize called the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.


Malala Yousafzai’s career is all about fighting for girls’ education and human rights. Born in Pakistan, she faced the Taliban’s restrictions on girls going to school. In 2009, she anonymously wrote a blog for BBC Urdu, sharing what life was like under the Taliban. Malala became even more well-known after surviving a Taliban attack in 2012. This didn’t stop her; instead, it fueled her determination to advocate for education. She moved to the United Kingdom, continued her studies, and became a global symbol for girls’ right to education.

Malala co-authored the memoir “I Am Malala” and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her incredible efforts in promoting education and human rights, especially for girls. Today, she continues to inspire people worldwide with her advocacy and determination.

Her Influence On Society

Malala Yousafzai has had a tremendous impact on society and women globally. Her fearless advocacy for girls’ education has sparked conversations and brought attention to the importance of equal educational opportunities for all.

Malala’s courage in the face of adversity, including surviving a Taliban attack, has turned her into a symbol of resilience and determination. Her story has inspired countless individuals, encouraging them to stand up for their rights and the rights of others. Specifically for women, Malala’s unwavering commitment to education has become a rallying point for gender equality. She emphasises that girls have the right to learn, challenging stereotypes and cultural norms that limit women’s access to education.

Beyond her personal story, Malala’s work with the Malala Fund and her global advocacy efforts have contributed to policy changes and increased awareness about the challenges girls face in pursuing education. In essence, Malala Yousafzai has become a powerful force for positive change, leaving an enduring impact on society and paving the way for greater opportunities for women and girls.

Unveiling Power: Discover Women Leaders with Mentoria

This list showcases the remarkable achievements of female leaders who have defied expectations and inspired future generations. Their stories remind us of the importance of determination, resilience, and vision, and encourage us to break down barriers and strive for greatness. As we continue to fight for gender equality, let us celebrate and uplift powerful women, recognising their invaluable contributions and working towards a more equal and inclusive future.

We’re here to assist you every step of the way. Begin your journey with Mentoria and explore the perfect fit for you. Don’t hesitate to call us to speak with our career mentors and select the guidance plan that best suits your needs. Mentoria’s career guidance programme empowers you to choose your ideal fit from 3 streams, over 850 courses, and more than 12,000 careers. Discover what will bring out the best in you.