99 Men and 1 Woman?

Here Are 54 Women Who Could Have Made Forbes' Innovator List

Sep 11, 2019
Management and Organization

 SMITH BRAIN TRUST – “Infuriating” was how one Maryland Smith professor described the Forbes list of “America’s Most Innovative Leaders.”

The list, published Friday, received marquis design treatment on the Forbes website, with a big-font headline and an all-caps sub-headline that asked, urgently, provocatively, “Who Are The Most Creative And Successful Business Minds Of Today?"

Then came the list. Ninety-nine men. And just one woman. (Whose entry, at No. 75, didn’t even include a photo.)

The list sparked an almost immediate backlash across social media for its stark gender imbalance. And on Monday, as the uproar continued, the magazine’s editor would issue an apology and an explanation, blaming the methodology of the data-driven list. “This pool ultimately proved the problem: Women, as we all know, are poorly represented at the top of the largest corporations (just 5% of the S&P 500) and fare even worse among growing public tech companies. In other words, for all our carefully calibrated methodology, women never had much of a chance here,” he wrote.

Many suggested that Forbes’ editors should have questioned the flawed list, rather than publishing it. And with good reason, suggests research from Maryland Smith’s P.K. Kannan.

His research into artificial intelligence and machine learning has underscored the dangers of blindly relying on algorithms to make important decisions. “Small errors,” he says, “like a flaw in the attribution scheme, can have a major impact.”

As the uproar over the Forbes list continued across social media, Maryland Smith experts compiled a list of their own, with just a few of the women that should make any list of innovators. Here’s a partial list of those names:

Laura J. Alber, CEO of Williams-Sonoma

Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors

Corie Barry, CEO of Best Buy

Sara Blakely, founder and owner of shapewear brand Spanx

Gail K. Boudreaux, president and CEO of Anthem Inc.

Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit and a member of the Board of Directors of Hewlett-Packard and Nordstrom

Michele Buck, president and CEO of The Hershey Company

Safra A. Catz, co-CEO of Oracle Corporation

Susan L. Decker, former president of Yahoo!, member of the Board of Directors for Berkshire Hathaway

Mary Dillon, CEO of Ulta Beauty

Melinda Gates, former general manager at Microsoft and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Shafi Goldwasser, co-founder and chief scientist at Duality Tech

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard

Beth Ford, CEO of Land O'Lakes

Marillyn Adams Hewson, chairwoman, president and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin

Michelle D. Gass, CEO and director of Kohl's Corp.

Lynn J. Good, chairman, president and CEO of Duke Energy

Ilene Gordon, former CEO of Ingredion

Tricia Griffith, CEO and president of Progressive

Vicki Hollub, president and CEO of Occidental Petroleum

Margaret Keane, CEO and president of Synchrony Financial

Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix

Mary Laschinger, chairman and CEO of Veritiv Corp.

Christine A. Leahy, president and CEO of CDW

Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Google Cloud

Anna Manning, president and CEO of Reinsurance Group of America

Kathryn V. Marinello, president and CEO of Hertz

Jessica O. Matthews, founder and CEO of Uncharted Power

Kathy Mazzarella, president and CEO of Graybar Electric

Mary Meeker, former Wall Street securities analyst, now partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins

Beth E. Mooney, CEO of KeyCorp

Deanna M. Mulligan, president and CEO of the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo

Phebe Novakovic, former intelligence officer, now chairwoman and CEO of General Dynamics

Neri Oxman, designer and professor at the MIT Media Lab, leading the Mediated Matter research group

Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Penny Pennington, managing partner of Edward Jones Investments

Patti Poppe, president and CEO of CMS Energy

Kira Radinsky, eBay director of data science and chief scientist Israel (former SalesPredict CTO)

Teresa Rasmussen, CEO of Thrivent

Rihanna, (Robyn Rihanna Fenty) singer, style icon, philanthropist and makeup entrepreneur

Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM

Lori J. Ryerkerk, president and CEO of Celanese Corp

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

Anne-Marie Slaughter, international lawyer and foreign policy analyst, president and CEO of New America

Jill Soltau, former CEO of Jo-Ann Fabrics, now CEO of JCPenney

Lisa Su, electrical engineer and CEO and president of Advanced Micro Devices

Adi Tatarko, CEO and co-founder of Houzz

Kathy J. Warden, CEO and president of Northrop Grumman

Joey Wat, CEO of Yum China Holdings

Meg Whitman, CEO of short-form mobile video platform Quibi, former president and CEO of Hewlett Packard

Mary Winston, interim CEO of Bed, Bath and Beyond

Anne E. Wojcicki, co-founder and CEO of personal genomics company 23andMe

Janet Yellen, former chair of the Federal Reserve, now an economist at the Brookings Institution

With contributions from Joseph P. Bailey, Wedad J. Elmaghraby, Sara Herald, David KassElinda F. Kiss, Henry Lucas, Wendy W. Moe, Paulo Prochno, Nicholas Seybert, and Emanuel Zur.



About the Expert(s)


P. K. Kannan is the Dean’s Chair in Marketing Science at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. In January 2021 he was appointed associate dean for strategic initiatives. His research expertise is on marketing modeling, applying statistical, econometric, machine learning, and AI methods to marketing data. His current research stream focuses on digital marketing - mobile marketing, attribution modeling, media mix modeling, new product/service development and customer relationship management (CRM).

Emanuel Zur

Emanuel Zur, PhD, Assistant Professor of Accounting and Information Assurance, joined the faculty this fall 2013. Prior to joining Maryland's AIA faculty, Emanuel was an assistant professor of accounting at Baruch College and a visiting assistant professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management. He holds an LLB in law and a BA in economics from Tel-Aviv University in Israel, as well as an MPhil in management, and a PhD in business administration (accounting) from New York University's Stern School of Business. Before entering academia, Emanuel worked as a consultant for EY and as a lawyer for one of the leading law firms in Israel.

Nick Seybert

Nick Seybert received his M.S. and Ph.D. from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. He conducts experimental and archival research in financial accounting with a focus on manager personality traits as well as on investors’ and managers’ decision-making biases. His research has been published in leading journals, including the Accounting Review, Journal of Accounting Research, Management Science, Review of Accounting Studies, and Accounting, Organizations and Society. Prior to joining the Smith School, he was a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business.

Paulo Prochno

Paulo Prochno is a Clinical Professor at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, and the Faculty Director for the DC evening MBA program. From 2010 to 2014, Paulo was the associate chair of the department. Prior to joining the Smith School faculty in the Fall of 2007, he had appointments at Fundação Dom Cabral, a top-ranked school from Brazil focused on executive education, and Ibmec Business School, where he coordinated open enrollment executive programs.

Wendy Moe

Wendy W. Moe is a Professor of Marketing and Director of the MS in Marketing Analytics at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. She is a recognized expert in online marketing and social media and is the author of Social Media Intelligence. Professor Moe's research has appeared in numerous leading journals. She serves on the editorial boards for Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Marketing and Journal of Interactive Marketing and has been recognized by the American Marketing Association as the Emergent Female Scholar and Mentor in the field of marketing with the 2010 Erin Anderson Award.

Henry Lucas

Professor Henry Lucas' research interests include information technology-enabled transformations of organizations, markets, industries and our daily lives. He has conducted research on the impact of information technology on organizations, IT in organization design, electronic commerce, and the value of information technology. Lucas co-produced and co-wrote The Transformation Age: Surviving a Technology Revolution with Robert X. Cringely, a documentary co-developed by Maryland Public Television and the Smith School shown on public television stations around the U.S. He has authored a dozen books as well as monographs and more than 70 articles in professional periodicals on the impact of technology, information technology in organization design, the return on investments in technology, implementation of information technology, expert systems, decision-making for technology, and information technology and corporate strategy.


Professor Elinda F. Kiss' primary areas of research include Bank Regulation, Finance and Banking Crises and Fixed Income Securities. She teaches Corporate Finance, and Banking in both the undergraduate and MBA programs. Prior to teaching at the Smith School Professor Kiss has served as Associate Professor in the Departments of Finance and Accounting at Rutgers University and as Assistant Professor or Lecturer at the Wharton School, Wellesley College, and Temple University.

Wedad J. Elmaghraby is a Professor of Operations Management and Management Science at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park. Her research interests are at the interface of operations management, economics and behavioral decision making. Her current research includes (1)  online auctions in business-to-business secondary markets, (2) online platforms to promote sustainable business paradigms, (3) the role of returns in learning demand and (4) behavioral factors in business-to-business contract design.

Joseph P. Bailey's research and teaching interests span issues in telecommunications, economics, and public policy with an emphasis on the economics of the Internet. This area includes an identification of the existing public policies, technologies, and market opportunities that promote the benefits of interoperability. Bailey is currently studying issues related to the economics of electronic commerce and how the Internet changes competition and supply chain management.

David Kass

Dr. David Kass has published articles in corporate finance, industrial organization, and health economics. He currently teaches Advanced Financial Management and Business Finance, and is the Faculty Champion for the Sophomore Finance Fellows. Prior to joining the faculty of the Smith School in 2004, he held senior positions with the Federal Government (Federal Trade Commission, General Accounting Office, Department of Defense, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis). Dr. Kass has recently appeared on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, PBS Nightly Business Report, Maryland Public Television, Business News Network TV (Canada), FOX TV, Bloomberg Radio, Wharton Business Radio, KCBS Radio, American Public Media's Marketplace Radio, and WYPR Radio (Baltimore), and has been quoted on numerous occasions by The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, The New York Times and The Washington Post, where he has primarily discussed Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, the economy, and the stock market. 

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