The World's Most Powerful Women

These women top a far-flung list that comprises 54 businesswomen and 23 politicians, with the rest being media execs and personalities and nonprofit leaders. A third are newcomers to the rankings; this reflects not only new top positions for women, such as Starcom MediaVest's Laura Desmond (No. 55) and Enterprise's Pamela Nicholson (No. 93), but also the increasingly global reach of this list, with more women from outside the U.S. rising to worldwide prominence.

Just under half the women ranked this year are based outside of the U.S. Top countries represented include the U.K. (five women), China (four), France, India and the Netherlands (three apiece). Morocco has its first ranked woman this year: Hynd Bouhia (No. 29), director-general of the Casablanca Stock Exchange.

Candidates for our list are globally recognized women at the top of their fields: chief executives and their highest-ranked lieutenants, elected officials, nonprofit leaders. They don't have to be rich, but they do have to wield significant influence. This year, an architect, a war correspondent and several foundation executives all won spots on the list.

We measure power as a composite of public profile--calculated using press mentions--and financial heft. This year, for instance, the woman with the highest public profile is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, No. 28, who garnered intense media scrutiny for her failed U.S. presidential bid.

The economic component of the ranking considers job title and past career accomplishments, as well as the amount of money a woman controls. A chief executive gets the revenue of her business, for example, while a Nobel winner receives her prize money and a U.N. agency head receives her organization's budget. We modify the raw dollar figures to allow comparisons among the different financial realms so that the corporate revenue that an executive controls, for instance, is on the same footing as a country's gross domestic product, ascribed to prime ministers.

Assistance: Laura Liswood, Secretary General, Council of Women World Leaders.

Reporting: Kate Macmillan, Tatiana Serafin, Emily Schmall, Allison Fass, Emily Stewart, Helen Coster, Heidi Brown, Devon Pendleton, Megha Bahree, Zina Moukheiber, Anne P. Mintz, Cristina Von Zeppelin, Naazneen Karmali, Soyoung Ho, Luisa Kroll, Kiyoe Minami and Anita Raghavan. Database management: Mitch Rand.

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