There are eight fewer women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in December 2018 than there were at the end of 2017. Women depart from their posts at the same rate as male CEOs, but because there are practically no women CEOs on the list in the first place, this constitutes a twenty-five percent drop in the number of women leading Fortune 500 companies. That really sucks. Luckily, while there aren't as many women at the top as there should be (here's looking at you, @ The White House), there are a solid amount of female CEOs killing the game and leading our favorite brands across industries. Fitness, apparel, food, cars, dating, and more have options led by strong women, and knowing which companies are helmed by women can help you make informed decisions about which brands you'll support with your funds (and Insta shout-outs).
Check out these 17 Notable Companies You Didn't Realize Were Lead By Women CEOs and consider making one of these bad*ss women the poster child for women CEOs instead of a woman whose Netflix TV series even managed to fail.
Melanie Whelan is the GOAT. She tried SoulCycle when she was a VP at Equinox because people kept talking about it and ended up being the person to grow the cycling mecca from a couple of New York studios to a worldwide fitness cult. And she finds time to tap it back a bunch of times during the week. She celebrated her 40th birthday in 2018 with a SoulCycle class. The best part is, Melanie managed to make SoulCycle a multi-million dollar grossing company while they expanded.
Dennis van Tine/Future Image/WENN.com
Being the CEO of General Motors is a Big Effing Deal. Mary Barra is the fifty-third most powerful person in the world according to Forbes and earned twenty-two million dollars in 2017. She also runs one of only two global companies with no gender pay gap, and she brought GM to the top spot on the 2018 Global Report on Gender Equality. People were pissed when she laid off ~thousands of people but that also angered Trump so there are worse L's to take. She's also investing billions in self-driving cars, ride-share, and electric vehicles, probably in the hope that GM stops being the literal last company to catch up to new tech.
When Whitney Wolfe Herd was twenty-four, she thought her career was over. She was in the middle of a legal nightmare with her ex-boyfriend, Justin Mateen, with whom she founded Tinder. That's right, she created Tinder and Bumble. But before she became the creator of an app that gave her a $230 million fortune before the age of thirty, a contender for Forbes' 2019 list of America's Richest Self-Made Women, and a collaborator with Priyanka Chopra to bring Bumble to India, Whitney needed to stand up to sexual harassment by her horrible ex and leave a company she helped build. Justin got suspended from Tinder, and Whitney definitively won her breakup. But she also became a feminist icon and clawed her way up from what she thought was rock bottom with grace and power.
Michelle Gass was in the upper ranks at Kohl's for five years before finally being given the top job in 2017. Since then, she's taken a brand known for being a department store for poor people and turned it into something resembling cool with partnerships between the brand and Under Armour, Nike, POPSUGAR, Amazon, and Freeform (who know a thing or two about hip young rebranding). She had one of the best holiday seasons in retail her first year in the job and understands that leggings are the future. She also used to be an exec at Starbucks, so she really knows what's up.
Mary Dillon is the perfect person to run a beauty megastore because she's in her late-fifties and looks thirty. Does she buy her moisturizer at Ulta? Asking for a friend. Mary has raised Ulta's stock and sales in the five years she's been Queen Of Affordable Makeup, proving that it probably makes more sense for someone who actually uses makeup to lead a brand centered around makeup. Take notes, Sephora. Mary has basically single-handedly proven that retailers can compete with the internet without just being mediocre. She also knows the words to "It's Tricky" by Run-DMC and has net her company over a billion dollars. I don't know which is more impressive.
Reformation is what's up in fashion. Fast fashion desperately tries to copy Yael Aflalo's sustainable, high-end L.A.-based line that's been a fave of industry insiders, famous people, and influencers since it started gaining traction in the early-2010s. Their factory in L.A. offers fair wages, massages, English classes, health care, legal help, transportation comps, and opportunities to move up in the company, and having their operations base in L.A. means new sketches can make their way to her awesome West Hollywood store in like two months, maximum. Did you know fashion is the third most polluting industry? Yael did, and she's doing something about it.
If I need to explain YouTube to you, I'm confused about how you're even online right now. Susan Wojcicki has always been a boss — she was literally Google's sixteenth employee, helped convince Google to acquire YouTube, and look at her now. There's clearly some weird stuff on YouTube, but at least it didn't literally ruin America like Facebook did! Her next steps are moving YouTube towards being a television network basically, which is weird because that's the opposite of why people like it, but the site is worth ninety billion dollars so she clearly knows more than I do. She also is married with four kids, so yes, you can have it all.
At first, it seems lowkey weird that Fox Television is run by a woman because Fox News is wack, but then I remembered that Fox News and Fox TV are different. Then, imagine my surprise when I Googled who the current leader of Fox News was and it was actually an entirely different woman named Suzanne. So, I'm still confused but am choosing to focus on Dana Walden, because Fox TV has really funny comedies like New Girl and Fox News is just comically bad. Dana is moving to Disney with the company after Fox is acquired by Walt Disney Company, so now she's also in charge of ABC Studios, the Freeform network, ABC-owned TV stations, and a bunch of other stuff. She is the reigning monarch of television.
Jody Gerson is a legend. Not only did she oversee the signing of Harry Styles and SZA to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), she got the historical appointment as the first female major music company CEO after realizing she deserved better than the co-presidency Sony/ATV was offering her following seven years of hardworking loyalty and called up a competitor, UMPG, who immediately offered her the job of global chairman. Jody is the reason we have Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys, and played a huge role in the careers of Mac Miller, Pitbull, and Pharrell. Now, she's working to make sure this glass ceiling stays shattered in the music industry by empowering other women.
Don't underestimate Lynsi Snyder. Her managers make a better salary than most dentists, she's beloved by her employees, and the notoriously private heiress is only thirty-six-years-old. Her road to the top of the family-owned, seventy-year-old company is tragic though. Lynsi's uncle died in a plane crash in the nineties and her dad died of a prescription drug O.D., leaving her as the only living heir to the In-N-Out fortune. She was then accused of car racing and hard partying in her late twenties when she was supposed to be running the company, but she's come a long way since then to be one of the most successful and beloved fast food CEOs in America. Well, except for the scandal in summer of 2018.
IBM is so iconic that we all know the name, we know it's important, and we have no idea what it actually does. Something tech-y? I honestly thought it made floppy disks until right now, but Ginni Rometty has been there for thirty-six years so that is probably what it did when she started working there. Ginni is using her Fortune 500 position to keep women in the workforce through extended maternity leave and breastmilk delivery programs. She's also done a bunch of (apparently) awesome stuff for the company that I don't understand involving the cloud, blockchain, and quantum computing.
Beyond Yoga was founded by two women, Jodi Guber Brufsky and Michelle Wahler, and now Michelle is the CEO of the long-lasting, high-quality athleisure brand. Can you believe Alo Yoga, LuluLemon, and Spiritual Gangster are all run by men? We're expected to buy $180 leggings made by people that have literally never worn a pair of leggings. That's so bizarre. Anyway, Beyond Yoga is inclusive, their photos are non-retouched, and their products are crazily soft. Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid were early adopters of the brand, and it's all responsibly sourced and made in Los Angeles.
Not only is Safra Catz the CEO of the world's third-largest software maker, but she's also a director of the Walt Disney Company. Talk about a side-hustle. Safra is one of the highest-paid female executives in the world, she has a J.D. from UPenn, and she understands that the cloud is the future. She was invited to join the Presidential Intelligence Advisory Board by our horrible president, but we won't hold that against her. Oracle is also dipping its toes into Virtual Reality headgear and is becoming a pioneer in data-focused advertising.
Michele Buck is Hersey's first female CEO in its 123 years of business. Her father was the first person in his family to graduate high school, her mother grew up on a farm with no indoor plumbing, and now she runs a multi-billion dollar company that has its own theme park. Her claim to fame before this was spearheading the push towards jerky, but if that's what got her the top job, yay for jerky, I guess. A 2005 profile lists her interests as beach vacations and jogging, so it looks like we're all on track to become mega-rich CEOs.
I know I've said this a ton, but NASDAQ is like legitimately a big deal. It's one of the biggest stock exchanges in the world, behind only the New York Stock Exchange, so basically, if Adena Friedman messes up it's going to be the Great Depression all over again. Her success is your success, my friends. Adena is the first woman to lead a global exchange company, and she is a black belt in taekwondo, so she both literally and figuratively kicks butt. Adena got her job after two decades at the company and has been killing the game since day one.
Nancy Dubuc left a job as CEO of A+E in 2018 to helm Vice Media, which came under fire in 2017 for a bunch of sexual harassment against women. Her job is to take the wildly successful youth media brand, which started out as a punk magazine in the '90s before growing to a multi-media conglomerate, and make sure it's both successful and safe for women, which really should've been a goal without anyone needing to tell the company to do it but whatever. People think she can save the media company from being its own downfall, and she was handpicked by Vice's founder as the first outside CEO to do just that.
Julia Hartz is the founder and CEO of Eventbrite, which you probably have used multiple times even if you don't actually remember what it is. Julia has been on Fortune's 40 Under 40 list twice, Inc.'s 35 under 35, and Forbes' list of most powerful women entrepreneurs. People actually enjoy working at her company, based on the nine years Eventbrite has won the Bay Area's Best Places to Work award, and she understands that diversity is as helpful as it is necessary to success. She also gets eight hours of sleep every night.