Despite a challenge to her authority in recent German elections, Angela Merkel takes the cake as the most influential female in the world, surpassing heavy hitters like Theresa May, Melinda Gates, and Sheryl Sandberg. This is Merkel's 12th year being on the coveted Forbes list, which is culled from sectors such as politics, business, technology, media and philanthropy.
Taking second place is British Prime Minister Theresa May, who also had a difficult year politically after deciding to hold a general election this past summer. Still, her influence and leadership are pivotal amid the U.K.'s ongoing Brexit process. Ranked in third place is Melinda Gates for her widespread philanthropic efforts as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg follows in fourth.
“Whether leading multibillion-dollar companies, governing countries, transforming an industry, or setting the agenda on critical issues of our time, collectively these women are making a lasting impact on our global footprint,” states Moira Forbes, executive vice-president of Forbes Media.
Among the newcomers on the list is Ivanka Trump, daughter and presidential adviser of Donald Trump, ranked at 19, while US Ambassador Nikki Haley comes in at 43. Hillary Clinton, who in 2016 took the no. 2 spot, has fallen dramatically to 65.
About half of the women who made the Forbes' Most Powerful Women list are American. Among those outside the U.S. is newly minted New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern, ranked at 38. Ardern, who is 37 years old, is the youngest woman to have made the list. Coming in at no. 78 is Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid, who is transforming her country through technological innovation, while Queen Elizabeth II, who just recently celebrated 65 years on the throne, holds her rank at 26.