Women now oversee some of the world’s biggest companies, banks, media outlets and economies. And at the lowest levels, female protesters have come out en masse to demand their rights.
In 2011, through quiet determination and willful force, women have pushed for progress. One group of notable women has succeeded in breaking barriers, securing a powerful voice on the frontlines of business and innovation. Women in technology have made important strides this year, shifting from a minor anomaly to a force to be reckoned with.
This year’s list of the world’s most powerful women highlighted a new breed of female techies. After exploding the network’s growth to 800 million active users, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was named the world’s fifth most powerful woman in 2011, shooting up from No. 66 the year before. Billionaire HTC Chairman and Cofounder Cher Wang, who landed at No. 20 for the first time, oversees the manufacturing of one out of every five smartphones in the world.
Cher Wang made a fortune manufacturing phones and gadgets sold under other companies’ brands; now she is getting even richer by marketing them under her own company, HTC, which reported revenues of $9.8 billion in 2010 and is the maker of more than one out of every 5 smartphones. Wang, the daughter of deceased billionaire businessman YC Wang and a mother of two, has been a trend-spotter and entrepreneur since 1981. With her husband, Wen Chi Chen, she is the richest person in Taiwan with an estimated net worth at $6.8 billion. In a recent intriguing move, announced a $300 million for a 51% stake in Beats Electronics, a U.S. venture involving superstar music producer Dr Dre, Interscope Records and Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine.