The recent Forbe's survey provides some insight into how things have changed for women in business in a short time. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, proves to be a real influence on today's list. She was unexpectedly (and unfairly I believe) ousted by HP's all male board. Then, as a very public advisor for Presidential candidate John McCain, made the unfortunate blunder stating that McCain was not qualified to run a company like HP. Despite some of the harsh treatment she has received from critics, she proves a trail blazer for inclusiveness in the executive suite.
To see how things have changed since Fiorina became the 1st female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, let's take a quick look at who holds the top spots on the list today compared to 5 years ago.
In 2009, of the top two spots, both are in government service, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US FDIC Chair Sheila Bair. The next eight spots are held by Chief Executive Officers of major corporations. (Self interested insight: George Washington University (Law School) grad Mary Shapiro, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be ranked higher, she came in only at 56).
In contrast to 2004, the first year Forbes began the ranking, Carly was ranked 10th, and the only Chief executive in the top 10, behind the likes of then first lady Laura Bush, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and sitting in the top spot, then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
Did Carly help more women make it to the top, there seems to be an argument that she did, if for no other reason than by blazing the trail for women in the Executive suite.
Check out the 2009 list here:http://www.forbes.com/2009/08/18/worlds-most-powerful-women-forbes-woman-power-women-09-angela-merkel_land.html
And the 2004 list here: