In taking the helm at General Motors (GM), Mary Barra becomes the first woman to head a major American auto company. A company veteran of more than 30 years, Barra most recently served as GM's senior vice president for global product development, heading up the design, engineering and quality-control of all GM vehicles worldwide. She takes over as GM CEO Jan. 15, 2014.
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo
Marissa Mayer was named Yahoo (YHOO) CEO in 2012. She made the jump from Google, where she'd been for 13 years. Mayer is credited with overseeing Google Search during a pivotal time. It was under her watch that the search engine grew from a few hundred thousand searches a day, to more than a billion. The day after her move to Yahoo was announced, she made news again in announcing she was pregnant. She is known for making some controversial changes in her initial time at Yahoo, including doing away with telecommuting. Yet in Mayer's first year as Yahoo CEO, the stock has nearly doubled, and she was recently named No. 1 on Fortune Magazine's list of 40 business executives under age 40 -- the first woman ever to take top billing.
Ginni Rometty, IBM
Virginia "Ginni" Rometty was appointed Chairman and CEO of IBM (IBM) in 2012. She is a veteran of the computer company, having worked there since its early days in 1981. She ranks No. 56 on Forbes's "most powerful people" list. Forbes notes that IBM is the biggest computer company by revenue, bigger than Google or Yahoo.
Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin
Marilyn Hewson is a relatively new addition to the list of women CEOs. She took the top spot at Lockheed Martin (LMT) in January. She's spent the bulk of her career -- some 30 years -- at the defense giant, serving in a variety of executive roles. She was recently appointed by President Obama to the President's Export Council, the principal national advisory committee on international trade. She's been named named one of Fortune Magazine's "50 most powerful women in business" four years running.
Ursula Burns, Xerox
In taking over as chairman and CEO at Xerox (XRX) in 2009, Ursula Burns made history as the first ever black, female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She is a veteran employee of Xerox, having started there in 1980 as a summer intern. Burns rose through the ranks, holding a number of executive and business positions. She is credited with helping lead the company through a pivotal time, as it transitioned from its focus on photocopying to a more diversified document and imaging company. In 2010, President Obama appointed Burns to the President’s Export Council where she serves as vice chair.
Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo
Indra Nooyi was named President and CEO of PepsiCo (PEP) in 2006. A year later she was also named chairman of the beverage company. Under her watch, PepsiCo successfully spun off Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut under the Yum! label and acquired Quaker Oats and Tropicana. Prior to coming to PepsiCo in 2001, Nooyi spent time at automation company Asea Brown Boveri and at Motorola.
Meg Whitman, Hewlett Packard
Meg Whitman has held the top spot at Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) since 2011. Prior to coming aboard, she ran the online auction company Ebay (EBAY) for 10 years, from 1998 to 2008. She is an experienced businesswoman, having held prior executive positions at Hasbro, FTD, Stride Rite and Disney. Whitman is also known for running for governor of California (she lost). She is ranked #15 on Forbes' list of Most Powerful Women.
Ellen Kullman, DuPont
Ellen Kullman was appointed CEO of DuPont (DD) in 2009. She is credited with opening multiple new lines of business over her 25-year career with the chemical company, including expanding into emerging markets. The company's profits have seen a great deal of growth under Kullman's leadership, including this year's first quarter, when net profits more than doubled. She is also leading the company in improving food security, investing some $10 billion in research and development on products that help agricultural sustainability.
Irene Rosenfeld, Mondelez International (Kraft Foods)
Irene Rosenfeld took the helm at Kraft, now Mondelez (MDLZ) in 2006-07. She is credited with seeing the company through a major spinoff, as well as through a rebranding campaign. Rosenfeld came to Kraft via General Foods, which was later acquired by Kraft. She led a team that spearheaded the company's IPO in 2001 and oversaw the integration of Nabisco and Cadbury. Forbes lists her as No. 20 on their Most Powerful Women list.
Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Company
Denise Morrison has spent more than 30 years in the food business. She was named president and CEO of Campbell Soup (CPB) in 2011. Since taking over, Morrison pushed the launch of 50 new products, including 32 new soups. That's up from only three new soups in the two years prior. Before joining Campbell's, she held leadership positions at Kraft, Nabsico and Nestle.