German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the most powerful woman in the world. Business Insider recently released a ranking of the 50 most powerful people in the world — the men and women who command the most influence and authority right now.
We looked at more than 100 of the top leaders in business, politics, entertainment, and tech. We evaluated their influence based on metrics in four major areas: economic power, command, newsworthiness, and impact — a subjective measure that captures how important they are in their respective spheres.
To spotlight the women who are breaking barriers and transforming industries, countries, and companies, we broke out a separate list of the world’s most powerful women, including the nine women who made our top 50 as well as several near misses.
While more women than ever have ascended to the top echelons of power — Park Geun-hye and Dilma Rousseff are the first female presidents of South Korea and Brazil, respectively — gender equality is still a long way off.
Less than 5% of S&P 500 companies are led by female CEOs, and according to the World Economic Forum, it could take another 118 years to erase the global gender pay gap.
Considering the systemic obstacles working against them, the accomplishments of these women — who are role models simply by dint of their positions — warrant special mention.
Click through to meet the 12 most powerful women on the planet.