Skip links
Women on Fortune 5

More women CEOs on Fortune 500 but still a long way to go

In 2021, the number of women running businesses on the Fortune 500 list of the biggest businesses in the United States shows an all-time record: 41, the magazine says adding “that’s not all. For the first time two Black women are running Fortune 500 businesses Roz Brewer of No. 16 Walgreens Boots Alliance and Thasunda Brown Duckett of No. 79 insurance fund TIAA.”

41 of 500 – and that’s an all-time high! Moonshot.News recognize that this is a positive trend but would describe around 250 as a more reasonable gender balance. The 41 of 500 shows that there’s still a very long way to go.

The highest-ranking business ever run by a female CEO is Karen Lynch on place number four as head of health company CVS Health.

These three milestones together amount to an exceptional year for the leadership of the Fortune 500, which ranks America’s largest companies.


The Fortune 500 is by now 67-year-old and the the number of female chief executives on the ranking is important statistics when it comes to gender diversity in boardrooms and C-suites across the United States.

41 women chief executives amounts to female leadership for just 8.1% of the Fortune 500, the magazine notes.

“We need to tell the optimistic—but not exuberant— story around what’s happening for women”, Lorraine Hariton, CEO of gender equality organization Catalyst, told the magazine.


The number of women running Fortune 500 companies is influenced by several factors, including executive leadership changes and companies either growing large enough to make the list, or shrinking to fall off it. So while the ever-vacillating number is not a scientific assessment of the state of women in American business, it does provide a useful snapshot, the magazine concludes.

And despite the disbalance, there is a clear positive trend. In 2000 there were two women and 498 men on the list. Ten years later there were 15 women and 485 men on the top rating. In 2020, the number of women were 37 versus 463 men before we reached the all- time high in 2021 with 41 women and 459 men.


“Overall, the diversity of women running Fortune 500 businesses improved from last year. Beyond the two new Black female CEOs, other women of colour running these businesses include Gap CEO Sonia Syngal, Advanced Micro Devices CEO Lisa Su, Yum China CEO Joey Wat, and Kewalramani of Vertex Pharmaceuticals”, the magazine reports.

Says Hariton of this year’s trends: “We’re seeing more intentionality. We’re seeing a focus on women of colour. And we’re seeing a recognition that diversity and women in leadership is even more important.”


Moonshot News is an independent European news website for all IT, Media and Advertising professionals, powered by women and with a focus on driving the narrative for diversity, inclusion and gender equality in the industry.

Our mission is to provide top and unbiased information for all professionals and to make sure that women get their fair share of voice in the news and in the spotlight!

We produce original content, news articles, a curated calendar of industry events and a database of women IT, Media and Advertising associations.

    Do you want an experienced opinion on a job issue?
    Moonshot Manager is here to answer!

      Moonshot community sharing thoughts and ideas, in a anonymous, safe environment.