Women in business and businesswomen. Most interesting and yet controversial subjects. Traditionally, or let’s say archaically, sectors such as technology, finance, or politics have always been considered more of a men’s circle. As a result, we end up with a limited representation of females in higher spheres of the entrepreneur world. And as we know, models are essential. Minorities are often underrepresented and negatively represented in movies, for example. It unfortunately perpetuates racial and gender stereotypes. It is the same in business. This is why hearing success stories of inspirational businesswomen and their achievements helps us remember that the situation is evolving.
So today, we focus on five successful female entrepreneurs that broke the glass ceiling. – Interesting metaphor, by the way. – It refers to the invisible barrier that prevents women (in our case) from reaching the higher hierarchy levels.
Melanie Perkins, CEO of Canva
Let’s start with the success story of Melanie Perkins. From passionate kitesurfer to top of the list businesswoman, founder of Canva. She is one of the youngest female entrepreneurs to succeed at this level. Indeed, at 34, she is the founder of a $3.2 billion profitable company.
Canva, a free-to-use online design platform. Undoubtedly one of the most famous creative startups of the 21st century with millions of users. It was developed in the corner of the world in Perth, Australia, where talented entrepreneur Melanie was born and raised. The company is now global in the world of design.
Furthermore, as a female entrepreneur, Perkins wanted to give a voice to women in the tech industry. Nowadays, the technology industry sadly remains considered a bit of a man’s world. This is why Elle Hughes, Marketplace team lead at Canva, created the Natural Women Collection. A free stock photo collection of real women, to increase and improve the representation of women in the media.
Arianna Huffington – Founder of The Huffington Post
You have certainly already read at least one article from The Huffington Post. An online News media giant founded in 2005 by talented businesswoman and journalist Arianna Huffington. As co-founder of the HuffPost, Arianna achieved a $5 investment from SoftBank Capital to support their expansion plan in only one year.
In 2012 the American web portal AOL purchased the Huffington Post for a value of $315 million. Arianna remained Editor in Chief of the magazine. And with her, HuffPost became the first online News media to win a Pulitzer Prize!
Last but not least, she is the best-selling author of 15 books. Time magazine listed her in the top 100 of most influential people. Forbes in the list of the most powerful women in media and entertainment. Finally, she is also the founder of Thrive Global. A startup aiming to help people suffering from stress, anxiety with the help of technology and media, launched in 2016. That is what we call a game-changer!
Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico
Indra Nooyi is a self-made woman raised in a middle-class background. She built her career stone by stone until becoming CEO of Pepsico, the second-largest food and drink company globally. That makes her one of the few female CEOs – 11 to be more specific – of the Fortune 500 companies on planet Earth.
Nooyi grew up in India in a modest family. She said in an interview that when she was a student, she worked in Sari (a traditional type of clothing in India and Southern Asia) as she couldn’t afford more clothes. And now, look at her! One of the most successful female entrepreneurs in the world.
Her success in numbers: PepsiCo’s revenues increased by almost 60% between 2007 ($39.47 billion) and 2017 ($62.8 billion) under Indra’s lead
Whitney Wolfe, Founder and CEO of Bumble
Let’s continue. You might have heard about Wolfe back in 2014, because of a dispute with her former company. The company was Tinder, one of the most famous dating apps on the market. She was actually the co-founder of the App. However, this is not our story.
After leaving Tinder on bad terms in May, Whitney Wolf took her revenge and has shown what a real entrepreneur is made of. In November 2014, she founded Bumble, the Application where women “make the first move”. Bumble is the third most downloaded dating App in the world.
As a result, Wolf is one of the tops of the list of female CEOs in the tech sector. She also became the youngest woman to take a company public. In February 2021, Bumble was valued at $13 billion on the Nasdaq exchange list.
Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank
Here we are. The last success story of incredible female entrepreneurs. This badass woman was named President of the European Central Bank in 2019. Christine Lagarde is a former lawyer. She made her way through the top leading positions in her career, being the first woman to take this place in sectors strongly marked by patriarchy: Law, Finance and Politics.
Indeed, she was the first female Chairwoman of Baker & McKenzie, a major international law firm. She is also the first woman Managing Director and Chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). There is more. Lagarde was also the first woman to be the French Finance Minister of a G8 summit. As a result, she ranks fifth in Forbes’ most powerful women list.
Let’s wrap it up. Those are 5 of the most inspirational and influential businesswomen in the world. They are the symbol of female empowerment and the fight for gender equality. Because the reality is that even if nowadays career opportunities seem to be unlimited for women, they remain underrepresented in the higher spheres of leadership and management. Numbers do not lie. We mentioned the Fortune 500 companies before. Women lead only 8% of them—more topics in our blog.