IF FORTUNE’S MOST POWERFUL WOMEN list is a referendum on the state of women in business, then the lesson of the 2018 ranking is clear: Progress still comes with a caveat.

It was a year of change, personified by new No. 1s atop both our domestic and international lists: in the U.S., Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson (page 82), who is leading a cadre of women at the helm of defense contractors; and abroad, GlaxoSmithKline’s Emma Walmsley (page 90), who is remaking the British pharma giant. We saw executives who had fallen off the ranking return in big jobs—Anthem’s Gail Boudreaux and Starbucks’ Roz Brewer—and others, like Walmart’s Judith McKenna (page 70), land major promotions.

But 2018 also saw the number of female CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies drop from 32 to 24, a reminder that momentum can stall. Women of color know this too well; our list mirrors the glaring lack of diversity that still plagues companies’ C-suites, a state of affairs highlighted by the departure of icons like PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi. As Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, tells us in her essay on leadership (page 79), “We can toast achievement, but we must continue to demand more, to demand parity.”

01 Marillyn Hewson

Chairman, President, and CEO, 64, Lockheed Martin

2017 RANK: 03

Nothing says power like rockets and ramparts. Hewson has become the top purveyor of U.S. defense at a time when geopolitical threats (and the government funding that goes along with them) abound—not just on earth, but also in space and cyberspace. As head of the country’s largest government contractor, Hewson rises to No. 1 this year, having positioned Lockheed Martin in the sweet spot to cater to the modern military’s needs—from its humming F-35 fighter jet program to its ability to equip the White House’s proposed “Space Force.” Lockheed is also leading the charge to develop hypersonic weapons, which travel five times as fast as the speed of sound. Such new tech has become a U.S. national security priority given advances in Russia and China, helping Lockheed win about $1 billion in contracts so far in 2018. That’s been a tailwind for the stock, with returns up 15% year over year, boosting Lockheed’s market value to nearly $100 billion.

02 Mary Barra

Chairman and CEO, 56, General Motors


GM hit a few speed bumps in the past year: The Chevrolet Bolt EV, once a bestseller, slipped behind all three of Tesla’s electric cars in sales, while a brewing trade war with China threatened the automaker’s profits. Meanwhile, GM recorded a $3.9 billion loss in 2017, owing largely to the new U.S. tax law. Still, Barra is barreling ahead. She scored a $2.25 billion investment in autonomous-vehicle venture GM Cruise from the SoftBank Vision Fund and plans to deploy GM’s first self-driving cars for ride sharing in 2019.

03 Abigail Johnson

Chairman and CEO, 56, Fidelity Investments


Assets under administration climbed 20%, to $6.8 trillion, in 2017 at the country’s largest provider of workplace retirement savings plans, with profits up more than 50%. The exodus from Fidelity’s actively managed stock funds is finally slowing, with investors pulling out $47 billion in 2017, vs. $58 billion in 2016. Even in the wake of a sexual misconduct scandal (a pair of portfolio managers were dismissed), Johnson stayed focused on beating competitors, slashing fees, and debuting new products.

04 Ginni Rometty

Chairman, President, and

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