Women CEOs Slowly Gain on Corporate America

•PepsiCo's pep stock was down 28% and is down 16% since Indra Nooyi, 53, took over in October 2006. Nooyi ranks No. 3 on Forbes magazine's list of the 100 most powerful women and is the highest-ranked CEO, ahead of non-CEOs such as Sen. Hillary Clinton, Queen Elizabeth and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

•Discount apparel retailer TJX (T.J. Max, Marshalls, A.J. Wright) tjx also lost 28% under Carol Meyrowitz, 54, and fell 30% since she took over in January 2007.

•Avon Products under Jung, 50, was down 38% after rising 20% in 2007. In December, Jung was named by Chief Executive magazine as one of the Top 10 wealth creators over the last three years.

•Agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland adm also barely outperformed the S&P 500, with a 38% decline, after being the performance champion in 2007 among women, with a 45% gain. ADM stock is down 29% since Patricia Woertz, 55, took over in May 2006. She was recruited from the oil industry to lend expertise to ADM's ethanol and biofuels expansion.

•Reynolds American lost 39% for the year, but gained 21% since Ivey, 49, took over as the first woman to lead a U.S. tobacco company.

•Sara Lee sle lost 39% under Brenda Barnes, 55, and is down 48% since she took over in October 2005.

•Western Union wu lost 41% under Christina Gold, 61, who worked 25 years with Avon Products. Stock is off 17% since Gold became CEO in September 2006.

•Xerox lost 51% for the year, but is up 1% for the time that Mulcahy, 56, has been in charge.

•Health insurance giant WellPoint wlp fell 61% under Angela Braly, who at 46 is the youngest among the women. WellPoint ranks No. 33 on the Fortune 500, which makes Braly CEO of the largest woman-led company since Fiorina was in charge of No. 11 Hewlett-Packard in 2005. WellPoint stock is down 49% since Braly took over in June 2007.

•Ride Aid rad stock under Mary Sammons, 62, crumbled 89% to 31 cents per share. Sammons was hired as chief operating officer in 1999 to help clean up an accounting scandal. Today, the company carries a debt load of $6 billion after its 2007 acquisition of Brooks & Eckerd. The stock was up 61% in 2006 and 147% in 2003, yet is down 93% since Sammons became CEO in June 2003.

The Fortune 500 lost two female CEOs in 2008 including its best long-term performer, Meg Whitman, who resigned at eBay ebay. She had been CEO since 1998, but eBay was not large enough to be on the Fortune 500 until 2005. Paula Reynolds engineered the timely sale of Safeco to Liberty Mutual Group for $6.2 billion, 51% more than the closing share price before the deal was announced. Reynolds has since joined American International Group as vice chairman in the aftermath of a government bailout aimed at keeping the giant insurer solvent.

Measuring women's impact

There are so few female CEOs of major corporations that it renders the sample size of USA TODAY's annual examination little more than a curiosity. With the Jan. 1 addition of Kullman at DuPont, 2.6% of the Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs. However, women are doing better at the largest mega-companies. With Kullman, 52, now on board, 7.4% of the largest 81 corporations with annual revenue of $31 billion and more have a woman at the helm.

As recently as 1996 there was only one female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, co-CEO Marion Sandler of Golden West Financial, acquired by Wachovia in 2006.

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