Meet the 9 most powerful female CEOs in corporate America

Ellen Pao: There Should Be More Women CEOs
Ellen Pao: There Should Be More Women CEOs

America may be on the verge of electing a female President, but women are still struggling to compete with men for the highest positions in corporate America.

There are 21 Female CEOs on the 2016 Fortune 500 list. That means that women hold only 4.2% of CEO positions in America's largest companies.

The Fortune 500 annual list ranks the largest corporations in the US by revenue.

Of the 29 companies added to the list this year, just one, Mary Laschinger of paper products and distribution company Veritiv, is a woman.

Mary T. Barra, CEO of General Motors, is the only woman to head a company in the top 10.

There were 24 women in last year's list and 24 in 2014. There are a number of valid reasons that the number has fallen, including retirement, company splits and spin-offs that mean the newly created companies are too small to qualify for Fortune's list.

We've picked out the top nine female CEOs, so scroll through to see who made the list, and meet America's most powerful women bosses.

Mary T. Barra

Mary T. Barra

Company: General Motors

Company Ranking: 8

Revenue ($ billion): $152.4

Background: Mary Barra has worked at General Motors for 36 years, starting as a co-op student in 1980. She rose through the ranks to become VP of Global Manufacturing Engineering, VP of Global Human Resources, Executive VP of Global Product Development, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, and finally CEO, a role she assumed in January 2014.

Barra graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree by Kettering University and earned an MBA from Stanford.

Virginia M. Rometty

Company: IBM

Ranking: 31

Revenue ($ billion): $82.5

Background: Virgina "Ginni" Rometty started her career at General Motors and moved over to IBM's Detroit Office as a systems engineer. She worked in IBM's Consulting Group before becoming Senior VP and Group Executive for Sales, Marketing and Strategy and eventually President and CEO in 2011.

She graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.

Indra K. Nooyi

Company: PepsiCo

Ranking: 44

Revenue ($ billion): $63.0

Background: Indray Nooyi began her career in consulting, interning with Booz Allen Hamilton and working at BCG. She joined PepsiCo in 1994 and was appointed President and CFO seven years later, before becoming CEO of the company. Nooyi is credited with moving the company towards healthier alternatives.

Indray Nooyi was born in Chennai, India and received a Bachelor's degree from Madras Christian College, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and a Masters from the Yale School of Management.

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Marillyn A. Hewson

Company: Lockheed Martin

Ranking: 60

Revenue ($ billion): $46.1

Background: Hewson has been with Lockheed Martin for over 30 years and held a variety of executive positions before becoming President, Chairwoman and CEO. She was appointed to the President's Export Council by President Obama and is Chairperson of the Aerospace Industries Association. Since becoming CEO in 2013, Lockheed Martin's market cap has doubled and Hewson has focused on building helicopter capability and military hardware.

Hewson graduated from the University of Alabama with a BS in business administration and an MA in Economics. She has also attended the Columbia Business School and Harvard Business School Executive Development Programs.

Safra A. Catz

Company: Oracle

Ranking: 77

Revenue ($ billion): $38.2

Background: Israeli-born Catz became co-CEO of Oracle after Founder and CEO Larry Ellison stepped down from the position in 2014. She started her career in investment banking and her tenure as CEO has been characterized by a suite of acquisitions: 8 in 2014, 3 in 2015 and 5 so far in 2016.

Catz earned a BA from Wharton and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Phebe N. Novakovic

Company: General Dynamics

Ranking: 88

Revenue ($ billion): $31.5

Background: Novakovic had a long career in the federal government, including the CIA, the Defense Department, and the Office of Management and Budget. She joined General Dynamics in 2001 and became CEO in 2013. Last year Novakovic led the company to a record year of financial performance, with operating earnings, margins, and other measures at their highest in the company's history, Novakovic told investors in January.

Novakovic graduated from Smith College and earned an MBA from Wharton.

Irene B. Rosenfeld

Company: Mondelez International

Ranking: 94

Revenue ($ millions): $29,636

Background: Irene Rosenfield has been involved in the food and beverage industry for over 30 years. She served as Chairperson and CEO of Frito-Lay and CEO of Kraft Foods, later becoming CEO of Mondelez International after the global snacking company split from Kraft in 2011.

Rosenfield has a BA in Psychology, an Masters of Science and a PhD in Marketing and Statistics from Cornell University.

Lynn J. Good

Company: Duke Energy

Ranking: 115

Revenue ($millions): $24,002

Background: Lynn Good started her career in the accounting industry, rising to become a partner at Arthur Anderson and then a Partner at Deloitte. Lynn later joined Cinergy, and became CEO post Duke Energy's acquisition of Cinergy. Good is known for her large investments in wind and solar facilities that sell their power to utilities and towns.

Good graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a BS in Systems Analysis and Accounting.

Ursula M. Burns

Company: Xerox

Ranking: 150

Revenue ($millions): $18,664

Background: Ursula Burns is the first African American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company. She began her career as a summer intern at Xerox and rose through the ranks to become Executive Assistant to then Chairman and Chief Executive Paul Allaire, Senior VP, and eventually CEO in 2009. She is a founding Board Director of Change the Equation, dedicated to improving the US education system in science, tech, engineering and math. She also serves as Vice Chair of the President's Export Council. She is set to step down from her CEO role when Xerox splits in two.

Burns has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from NYU and an MSC in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.

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