Women are having a bigger effect on our world than ever before.
In the past year, women have taken on serious new leadership roles around the world: Janet Yellen became chair of the Federal Reserve, Park Geun-hye became president of South Korea, and Angela Ahrendts was tapped to become the head of Apple’s retail stores.
These moves are redefining women’s roles and empowering younger generations of women to step up.
From tech to finance to retail, we’ve found the 30 women who are changing the world.
Melia Robinson contributed to this story.
'Saturday Night Live' cast member
After audience unrest about the lack of diversity on NBC's 'Saturday Night Live,' executives recruited Sasheer Zamata to the cast -- the first African-American female cast member since Maya Rudolph.
Zamata, who attended the University of Virginia and trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, has floated in the New York comedy scene since 2009, and is perhaps best known for impersonating Beyoncé in a hilarious YouTube series. Good news for SNL: She also does Michelle Obama.
Positive feedback from viewers prompted SNL execs to expand diversity behind the scenes by hiring two more black women, Leslie Jones and LaKendra Tookes, as writers for the show.
Nobel Prize-winning writer
Called 'master of the contemporary short story,' Munro recently took home literature's highest honour: the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. The 82-year-old has been in the industry a long time, and her work often jumps around from past to present to future, revamping the structure of time.
Her storytelling, which often involves difficult relationships and moral conflicts, is psychological realism at its best. The Nobel win makes the Canadian native the 13th woman to win the prize and the first Canadian woman. Her last collection, 'Dear Life,' was published last year, and Munro has since announced that it will probably be her last. Not a bad place to end.
WNBA player with the Phoenix Mercury
Brittney Griner is one of the most dominant professional female basketball players in the WNBA.
The 6'8' athlete plays for the Phoenix Mercury and dominates the court in nearly every game she plays. She tied the WNBA career dunk record her first game and has more dunks than every other woman who has dunked in a NCAA game combined. Griner is making people take women's basketball seriously and paving the way for more girls to play.
Founder of Nasty Gal
Amoruso is the ultimate success story for turning an unusual hobby into a multimillion-dollar business.
She started Nasty Gal in 2006 as an eBay store selling women's vintage clothing. Not a new concept, sure, but the college dropout showed extreme resourcefulness and business savvy in that most of the pieces she sold were found while Dumpster diving. Today the website has grown into a full-fledged online retailer with more than $US100 million in sales. Inc named Amoruso to its 30 Under 30 list last year.
Probably the most amazing thing of it all is that Amoruso had never worked in fashion before Nasty Gal -- she was just a well-dressed young woman with an eye for fashion. Amoruso just published her first book, #GIRLBOSS, which outlines her successful business journey and the crazy, exponential growth of her brand.
Late-night TV host
After a February New York Times article about late-night hosts referred to Handler, in parentheses, as 'the only female host in late-night,' she rallied her energy into a Huffington Post essay called 'No One Puts Baby In Parentheses' about what it's really like being a woman in the male-dominated industry of late-night TV.
'I am always asked what it's like to be the only female in a so-called 'boys club,'' she wrote. 'To me, it's never been about being a woman in a man's world; it's been about delivering a consistently funny and entertaining show each night.'
Handler took the emphasis off gender, noting that her intention was not to be the point of the piece, but to question why she, a woman, was the only late-night host whose name was mentioned in parentheses. Handler is known for her refreshing use of humour to challenge hypocrisy and injustices; her article received an equal amount of backlash and applause, but it brought the issue to the forefront, which was her true intention.
President of Brazil
Despite being one of the biggest emerging world powers, Brazil hasn't exactly been on the up and up in recent years. But with the World Cup just around the corner, all eyes are on Brazil and its president, Dilma Rousseff. The World Cup is expected to drive people en masse to the country, which is hosting a total of 64 soccer matches in 12 cities.
The cities have all constructed state-of-the-art fields, hotels, restaurants, and other opportunities for tourists to spend money and boost the Brazilian economy. Tourists are expected to bring in about $US11 billion over the one-month course of the event.
All good things for Rousseff, especially seeing as growth has been sluggish and inflation has been the increasing. Rousseff has also achieved some target financial goals since being elected, and the boost of tourism this summer could help her achieve even more.
President and chief creative officer at J.Crew
Called 'the woman who dresses America' by The New York Times, Jenna Lyons is credited with turning J.Crew 'from ugly duckling to fashion arbiter.' Today, the brand is one of the hottest in retail with designers lining up to do collaborations. It's thanks, in part, to her semi-androgynous style, which makes her a recognisable fixture in fashion.
As J.Crew's chief creative officer and president, Lyons is such a creative force in the brand that she's even rumoured by some to be the company's next CEO.
Founder and co-executive editor of Re/code
The former co-executive editor of AllThingsD and now founder and co-executive editor of
Re/code, a new tech site launched in January, Kara Swisher is one of the most powerful women in tech.
The outspoken tech journalist is a modern muckraker who's not afraid to criticise the big people in tech: She called Google 'dangerous and thuggish,' criticised Silicon Valley as being an all-white boys' club, and is an advocate for women in tech.
Swisher is relentless in her investigative journalism, and she is keeping the big guys on their toes.
'I want to win a lot,' she told Tech Cocktail. 'I don't want to just win, I want to beat the people into the ground. I'm really competitive, and I've always been competitive as a reporter. I wouldn't say I'm shy.'
This was one of the biggest years ever for the tennis star.
Serena Williams ranks No. 1 in women's singles tennis, and is one of the greatest players of all time.
To date, Williams holds 17 Grand Slam singles and 13 Grand Slam doubles titles, as well as four Olympic gold medals. She's the reigning champion of the U.S. Open, French Open, WTA Tour Championships, and Olympic ladies' singles champion.
Serena Williams continues to prove that women can absolutely dominate in sports.
CEO of Yahoo
It hasn't even been two years since Marissa Mayer took the reins as CEO of Yahoo, but she has already made several significant improvements for the tech giant.
She has acquired 18 big companies, including Tumblr for $US1.1 billion; hired talented employees like top engineers, editors, and Ph.Ds, as well as celebrities like Katie Couric, who is working on Yahoo News; and she has been rebranding the company by redesigning the site and getting rid of the old logo. She's made about $US215 million at Yahoo so far.
In addition to her role as Yahoo CEO, Mayer also serves on the board of Walmart and is an active angel investor. Mayer is also a mother. She has a 1-year-old son and proves that it is possible to have a successful career and family.
Kabul District 1 police chief
Afghani Col. Jamila Bayaz was appointed the country district police chief at the beginning of the year, serving in District 1 in the capital city of Kabul, making her the first female district police chief in Afghan history.
It's a revolutionary development for a country known for being behind when it comes to treating men and women equally -- in fact, women in Afghanistan can only speak to female police officers, but there are fewer than 1,600 of them.
The Taliban has expressed interest in killing Bayaz but, like Malala Yousafzai, Bayaz hopes to become a symbol of women's rights and justice in her country.
This month, Beyoncé was honored with a place on Time's 100 most influential list and a cover on the magazine. 'Beyonce doesn't just sit at the table. She builds a better one,' wrote Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in the singer's profile. (Beyoncé collaborated on Sandberg's 'Ban Bossy' campaign earlier this year.)
She has 17 Grammy wins and 46 nominations under her belt, making her the third most-honored woman in the award's history. While some say her sexual empowerment is a far cry from feminism, others laud her songs like 'Run The World (Girls)' for wearing the label proudly.
Beyoncé pushed back against big-business retailers when she announced in December that the album she'd been secretly producing would be released on iTunes first. After the snub, Target and Amazon refused to stock her new album, which achieved record sales.
Adviser to the White House CTO
As an adviser to the White House's chief technology officer, Vivan Graubard is helping bring the U.S. government into the modern era.
She's only 24 years old, but she's already making serious changes to government policy. Among other projects, like her work on the 'Not Alone' campaign to prevent sexual assault on college campuses, she works on the Tech Initiative to Fight Trafficking, which uses technology to help combat human trafficking. She also advocates for greater diversity in the tech community and for more girls and women in STEM careers.
'It's an interesting time to work for the government,' Graubard told In The Capital. 'It's becoming such a tech focused community. We're just now seeing how tech can be used to push policy forward.
Screenwriter and co-director of 'Frozen'
Lee's movie 'Frozen,' which won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, reinvented the image of the Disney princess.
For what may be the first time in Disney history, true love wasn't defined solely as the love between a helpless princess and a hero prince. Instead, true love was found between sisters, who rescued each other.
Lee, who has been called 'Disney's New Animation Queen,' wrote the highly acclaimed animated musical, and, as a co-director, is also the first woman in the studio's history to direct one of its animated movies. Next she has her eyes set on being the first female director of 'a giant sci-fi movie.'
Chef at Campanile, Osteria Mozza, and others
Silverton is the owner of a number of restaurants and bakeries, namely in Los Angeles and other parts of the West Coast. A notable force in the industry since opening her first restaurant, Campanile, in 1989, Silverton was just named Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation, an award most often given to East Coast (New York-based) chefs in previous years.
With her new honour, Silverton is making L.A. a respectable rival to New York, the city that's probably best known for being the foodie capital of America. Even better, she's a female chef who's ending L.A.'s oppression in the culinary industry.
A pastry chef by trade, Silverton says she knows she's doing her job when she inspires the people she hires to work for her.
Last January, the U.S. Military announced plans to integrate women into previously closed combat jobs across all service branches. It was almost a year before the first four women successfully completed the infantry course, the reason being just how physically, and mentally, taxing it is.
Now 10 more women have graduated from the course -- which is exactly the same for women as it is for men -- proving that previously perceived physical boundaries that some had thought held women back from keeping up don't really exist.
But even though they have passed the course, they will not be assigned to infantry jobs just yet, showing that there's still progress to be made. Marine Corps officials reportedly said that they are collecting data from the women in the courses and will use it in deciding how to integrate women into combat units.
President of South Korea
Park was sworn in as president of South Korea in February of last year, days after her neighbours to the north launched their third nuclear test. It's a lot of pressure for a new president, and being her country's first female president (as well as the daughter of a former president), eyes were on Park as she took office.
But the 62-year-old has remained composed and cool-headed, even arranging meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama to call for North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.
Even more impressive is that Park is unmarried -- electing a female leader who doesn't have a man behind her still seems unlikely in any country -- but she proudly owns it.
Managing director of the World Bank Group
Indrawati, the former finance minister of Indonesia, runs the World Bank's operations in 70 countries around the globe. She has been the highest-ranking woman in the bank since June 2010, with the weighty role of overseeing operations in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Indrawati has also been a cornerstone in lobbying for better labour practices in Bangladesh after a series of work-related tragedies in the last year.
Nyong'o, whose 2014 Oscar-winning role in '12 Years a Slave' was her first film role ever, was further honored when she was recently named to and given the cover of People's 'Most Beautiful People' issue.
The Mexican-born Kenyan grew up watching actresses with light skin and long, straight hair, and she struggled with not looking like that. 'Subconsciously you start to appreciate those things more than what you possess,' she said.
But now Nyong'o is a trendsetter and role model, as a black woman and a woman. The new face of Lancome, Nyong'o hopes her works inspires young girls to 'feel a little more seen.'
COO of Facebook
The COO of Facebook became a household name last year, after the release of her book 'Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,' which argued that women are often their own worst enemies in the workplace, self-sabotaging their careers before they really begin.
This year, she continued to advocate for women in the workplace with her new campaign to 'Ban Bossy,' which argues that the word 'bossy' is often applied negatively toward women and should be banned.
Sandberg has established herself as an outspoken voice for professional women, and there's evidence that her ethos is already working. Since the release of 'Lean In,' women at various companies have reportedly already been speaking up and asking for more money and promotions they believe they deserve. Sandberg is arguably inspiring a whole generation of women to rise to the top.
Inbee Park is the world's best female golfer.
The South Korean golf pro began playing at the age of 10 and has gone on to win four major championships, including the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA Championship, and two the U.S. Women's Open titles, where she became the youngest player to win the event.
Park said her favourite number is 1 because 'that is what I want to be and where I wish to stay.'
Founder and CEO of GoldieBlox
Debbie Sterling is inspiring the next generation of female engineers.
As a Stanford-educated engineer and the CEO and founder of GoldieBlox, a company that sells toys that inspire girls to become engineers, Sterling is encouraging girls to build and create things.
GoldieBlox is built around a series of interactive books and construction toys starring Goldie, a young, curious girl who loves engineering and wants to build things. The book and toy combo uses a series of lessons to introduce girls to engineering concepts.
GoldieBlox has already received lots of attention since it appeared in a Super Bowl ad earlier this year, and parents are clamoring to buy the toys for their daughters.
Chairwoman of Universal Pictures
As the chairwoman of Universal Pictures, Donna Langley is one of the most powerful women in Hollywood.
Langley oversees Universal's production strategy, international production and marketing, as well as the studio's Focus Features division. She handles everything from major acquisitions to small edits in filming.
She's presided over hits like 'Les Misérables,' 'Mamma Mia,' and 'Knocked Up.' She also spearheaded the acquisition of the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' movie, beating out all the other studios for the rights to turn the book, which has sold over 70 million copies worldwide, into a film.
She's one of a very small group of women who have risen to such power in a studio, and she's paving the way for other women in the industry. The stylish executive is a mother of two young boys.
Senior vice president, retail and online stores at Apple
Last October, Apple poached Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry, to become the tech company's new head of retail. She'll be paid well in her new gig, making over $US68 million.
Ahrendts is expected to revamp Apple's retail stores at home and expand the scope of the stores abroad (especially in China).
Ahrendts is whip smart, stylish, and well liked by her employees. Some speculate that if she does a good job, she has a chance of becoming Apple's next CEO.
Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda Gates may be best known by way of her husband but she's no slouch. Gates is set on changing the world by making contraception more globally accessible.
Her goal -- to get 120 million more women in impoverished, developing countries access to contraception by 2020 -- is lofty, but she's already made tremendous progress. In November, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded grants to 11 innovative new condom designs that are less noticeable when worn, and therefore more likely to be worn, effectively reducing the rates of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Chancellor of Germany
Despite tensions that arose earlier this year after Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. was likely spying on allies like Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany is now closer to the U.S. than ever, teaming up with President Obama against Russia in light of the crisis in Ukraine.
The insanely popular chancellor is making Germany a force to be reckoned with, and it helps having a superpower like the U.S. in her court. This plays out twofold, as other countries are also less agitated over U.S. involvement in Russia-Ukraine affairs now that Merkel's on board.
CEO of General Motors
Named CEO in December, Barra is the first female to lead General Motors, a huge leap forward in an industry historically dominated by men.
A GM lifer, Barra has been working for the company since she started as a fender inspector at 18. She has major influence over the design, engineering, and quality of GM's vehicles, and has made noticeable improvements in both the internal structure of the company as well as its sales growth.
Though she came under fire after GM's massive recall, she's overseeing a number of impressive new models that are turning heads.
Girls' education activist
Yousafzai is the young Pakistani student who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban. Her refusal to stand down from what she believed was right has brought to light the plight of millions of children around the world who are denied an education.
Last year, she was favoured to become the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate ever, released a memoir -- 'I Am Malala' -- and appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Her goal is to become the prime minister of Pakistan.
Former U.S. Secretary of State
Nearly the entire Democratic party, most of the media, and big liberal donors count Clinton as the presidential front-runner in 2016. A major advocate for national healthcare reform and other public-health issues, she was elected Senator of New York in 2000, and most recently served as the U.S. Secretary of State.
She stepped down from Obama's Cabinet at the end of his first term, after cementing 'people-to-people diplomacy' as her trademark. She traveled more frequently and visited more countries than any of her predecessors.
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