Talk about pressure: Forbes recently named PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi the fourth-most-powerful woman in the world — and she’s barely even started her new job. Nooyi, the soft-drink giant’s new CEO, was edged out only by German chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Chinese vice premier Wu Yi in global clout. But in the male-dominated world of the Fortune 500, she’s one of only 11 female chief executives, joining the likes of Archer Daniels Midland’s Patricia Woertz and Xerox’s Anne Mulcahy at the pinnacle of corporate America. ¶ Nooyi’s ascension to the corner office represents progress — but not much, according to Catalyst, a research firm that studies women at work. “Indra certainly joins rarefied air,” says Catalyst vice president Deborah M. Soon. “Unfortunately, progress has been glacially slow.” After all, in 2005, women held barely 16.4 percent of corporate officer positions in the U.S., a slim 0.7 percent increase since 2002. At that pace, it will be 40 years before there’s real parity in the nation’s boardrooms. ¶ There are a few culprits, says Soon: a lack of female role models, little access to male-oriented networks, and old-fashioned stereotyping. But with Nooyi at PepsiCo’s helm, there’s one more female corporate superstar to show the boys how it’s done. — Chris Taylor

The Path to Success >
Corporate America may still be largely a men’s club. But you might not know it by looking at these powerhouse women, who head up some of America’s largest companies. Here’s a look at how they rank in corporate clout on the Fortune 500 and on Forbes’ list of the most powerful women in the world — and how they got to where they are. — C.T.

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