These Women Rule Hewlett-Packard's new CEO and president tops FORTUNE's second annual ranking of the 50 most powerful women in American business. Carly Fiorina is a repeat at No. 1. But our list also includes 17 newcomers, many from high-tech companies. Together they are making the business world a lot less macho--although one of the women can beat her boss at leg wrestling.
By Patricia Sellers

(FORTUNE Magazine) – When Carly Fiorina was competing to become the new CEO of Hewlett-Packard earlier this year, she stood out not because she was a woman--two of the four finalists were--but because she had never worked in the computer industry. It seemed a major handicap, a potential deal breaker. How did she handle it? While other contenders used face time with the Hewlett-Packard search committee to promote their own talents, Fiorina drilled down to the board's concerns: What kind of company should Hewlett-Packard be? What kind of person should run it?

At the time, Fiorina was president of Lucent's largest division--a super-saleswoman famous for winning over customers in 43 countries and, before that, for winning over investors when she led Lucent's record-setting IPO. "Look, lack of computer expertise is not Hewlett-Packard's problem," she remembers telling the directors. "There are loads of people here who can provide that. I've demonstrated an ability to pick up quickly on the essence of what's important. I know what I don't know. And I know that our strengths are complementary. You have deep engineering prowess. I bring strategic vision, which HP needs."

Besides making a forceful sales pitch, the shrewd Fiorina identified a key member of the HP board who could be her ally and partner: Dick Hackborn, a former executive vice president at HP and a legend at the company for having built its desktop printer business from scratch. In her second meeting with Hackborn, Fiorina said that if she became CEO, she wanted him to be chairman. "This came as a complete surprise," says Hackborn, 62. But after checking with his fellow directors, he agreed to be chairman--for a while. "This will not take long," he says. "Carly is 90% of the partnership, and she has all the capabilities to be an outstanding leader of HP."

A year ago, when FORTUNE put Fiorina on the cover as the Most Powerful Woman, she was little known. Now, at 45, she is the first female CEO of one of America's 20 largest corporations. In July she accepted a "welcome to Silicon Valley" pay package that approaches $100 million. For her accomplishments, Fiorina is once again FORTUNE's No. 1 woman.

Beyond Fiorina's star turn, there's a dramatic change in the composition of this year's Power 50 list. We evaluated candidates the way we did last year, when we ranked America's 50 leading businesswomen for the first time. That is, we defined power as much more than profile, position, or pay. We measured it broadly--by revenues and profits controlled, influence within a company, the importance of the business in the global economy, and its effect on culture and society. So what's new this year? Fully one-third of the women on our list--17 newcomers--not to mention steep plunges and ascents among those who made it the second time.

Such radical changes reflect a major shift in the economy and also suggest a new superhighway to success: the Internet, of course. No. 3 on our list is Mary Meeker, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's top Internet analyst, who has fed tech-stock fever more than anyone else. No. 5 is Meg Whitman. She didn't make the cut last year because she was in the midst of taking her quirky little company, eBay, public. Who (besides Mary Meeker) could have guessed what was to come? As eBay's CEO, Whitman has built the online auction house into a powerhouse, with a stock market valuation of $18 billion. In the process she has changed the way consumers buy and sell.

More than half of the Power 50 newcomers are technology stars. They include Joy Covey (No. 28), the finance-chief-cum-strategist at; marketer Jan Brandt (No. 39), who built America Online into cyberspace's No. 1 brand; and Dawn Lepore (No. 36), the tech wizard behind the transformation of a bricks-and-mortar brokerage, Charles Schwab, into the category killer of online stock trading. One high-ranking first-timer (there are four in the top ten) isn't specifically a techie, but she is riding the convergence of media and technology: Nancy Peretsman (No. 9) is the standout investment banker at Herbert Allen's renowned media industry boutique, Allen & Co. She has made multibillion-dollar deals to sell her client companies, including MediaOne and CDnow, and she is also the financial brains behind one of this year's most successful IPOs,

For all the buzz about technology, some of the newcomers on our list are important players in the old economy. Debby Hopkins (No. 6) is the new chief financial officer at Boeing. She is straight-talking and audacious, precisely the kind of person that FORTUNE 500 Goliaths need to help them compete. "The key term is 'change agent,' " says Boeing CEO Phil Condit, who is also a director of Hewlett-Packard. "These are both companies that want to remake themselves." Ditto General Motors. The new boss at GM's Saturn subsidiary is Cynthia Trudell (No. 42), the first woman to head a major division of a car company. In finance, another macho field, women are finally prospering. Dina Dublon (No. 31) became CFO of Chase Manhattan. Now, with Heidi Miller (No. 2) at Citigroup, two of the three largest U.S. banks have female finance chiefs. At Barclays Global Investors, the world's largest institutional investment manager, Patricia Dunn (No. 11) controls $675 billion in assets.

The newcomers pushed some of last year's powerful women way down the list--none further than Oprah Winfrey, whose power has slid along with her TV ratings; she dropped from No. 2 to No. 26. Mattel's CEO-under-fire, Jill Barad, fell from No. 6 to No. 25. Some of the 17 who disappeared are executives at struggling companies: Kathy Dwyer of Revlon and TV bosses Pat Fili-Krushel and Anne Sweeney of Walt Disney. Nor were Silicon Valley women invincible. Venture capitalist Ann Winblad and Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz tumbled off our list because they missed the biggest tech trends. In general, making FORTUNE's cut was far more difficult this year simply because the aggregate power of women in business has gone up. Note that famous names--Donna Karan, Christie Hefner--are absent; their businesses aren't large or successful enough. Even holding rank, as Pfizer's Karen Katen and Oxygen Media's Gerry Laybourne did, required doing something big: expanding the business, getting a promotion, or latching onto the Net.

Overall, women fill just 11% of senior executive positions in the FORTUNE 500, according to the research firm Catalyst. And in a new study of 200 Internet companies, executive-search consultants at Spencer Stuart found women in only 2% of board seats. But as this year's Power 50 shows, they have made significant progress. What's fueling it? First of all, a talent shortage. In Silicon Valley (which has already poached plenty of old-economy stars), at least 300 companies are looking for CEOs. The male powers-that-be finally seem to realize that the pickings aren't quite so slim if they include the majority (51%) of the population.

Another important but unrecognized factor is age. Look at our foldout list: Most of the women--Fiorina, Miller, Whitman, Hopkins, Dublon, Trudell--are in their mid-40s. Was there something in the water in 1955? No. As the millennium approaches, these pioneers finally have enough management expertise to take charge. "You don't have to have 30 years of experience to be CEO of a major company today," notes HP's exiting CEO Lew Platt. "Twenty is enough. And, in fact, it's often more appropriate for companies that are stuck in old ways of thinking."

Despite his lackluster run at HP in the past couple of years, Platt, 58, has a reputation as one of America's more progressive bosses. Rightly so. HP has three executives on our Power 50, more than any other company. Besides Fiorina, there are LaserJet-printer head Carolyn Ticknor (No. 35) and newcomer Ann Livermore (No. 13). A year ago Livermore asked Platt to merge her software and services business with one of HP's big hardware divisions. She took charge of the combined $14 billion enterprise-computing unit, which is focused on Internet services and is the company's most important growth business. Livermore, 41, was the other female finalist in the HP CEO contest. She is taking her loss to Fiorina in stride, or at least trying to. "Everybody wants to write that Ann's pissed off and that she wants to leave HP," she says. "That's not my story. I'm not going to leave."

Power is hard to get, but the newcomers to our list show that there are clear ways to go about acquiring it. First of all, generalists win. In this volatile economy, the right stuff--for men and women--is versatility, not functional expertise or pedigree. "Everybody has to learn to be a generalist," says Debby Hopkins, who arrived at Boeing in January with neither an MBA nor experience in the aircraft industry. What she had was a history of forcing change at change-resistant companies: Unisys (which she helped save from bankruptcy), Ford, and GM. "You have to know how to do a lot of things, understand the other guy's challenges, support each other, and make changes fast," she says. As Hopkins points out, when you're working in a modern organization where many different people call the shots, collaboration is key.

Meg Whitman walked into a funky online flea market and became a billionaire. Some people say she's the luckiest woman in corporate America. She was in the right place at the right time, but she's successful largely because she's comfortable with change and can make decisions quickly. Says Mary Meeker, who calls herself "a huge eBay fan": "Fast decision-making is the key to success at these companies. Meg is really good at looking at a situation and saying, 'This makes sense. Go!' Or 'This doesn't make sense. Don't go!' " Whitman has also been nimble in her career. She came to the world with brand experience from Procter & Gamble, Bain & Co., and Disney. She has managed herself like an open system: She is flexible, programmable, and adaptable to all sorts of opportunities.

Like many Silicon Valley standouts, she was never a star in the old economy. People who worked with Whitman pre-eBay say she was smart but "so ordinary." She responds, "Well, I always felt that if I kept my head down and delivered, things would work out." From Disney she moved to FTD (flowers) as CEO, where she failed to fix the business. At Hasbro, she ran the preschool division. "Going from CEO to division president was great," says Whitman, 43. "I was able to do the Hasbro job effectively and raise two young boys at the same time."

When Whitman, on a gamble, jumped to eBay in the spring of 1998, she wasn't hung up on rank or traditional trappings of power. It's a good thing. FORTUNE's fifth-most-powerful woman shares her office--a tiny, open cubicle--and a "personal" assistant with another executive. Talk about distributed power: When Whitman plays strategist by taking eBay upscale or centralizing customer service, the users often flame her via e-mail. When she plays disciplinarian by suspending hundreds of eBay users weekly for fraud or for selling items they shouldn't (firearms, body parts, teen virginity), she's scorned as an overprotective mother. "Nine out of ten CEOs couldn't do that job," says Joie Gregor of Heidrick & Struggles, who conducts CEO searches for tech companies. "Most executives are too fact-based. They think too much about how customers are supposed to behave."

Whitman's toughest moment came this summer when eBay's systems crashed and service shut down several times, once for 22 hours. "I missed this one," she says, blaming herself for not building eBay's infrastructure and tech talent fast enough. Some angry users even called for Whitman's removal. But Pierre Omidyar, the 32-year-old chairman and founder, calls her reaction to the crisis "one of her shining moments." Whitman worked 100 hours a week for four weeks, handing off nontech duties to a marketing executive. "Other CEOs might have said, 'I don't understand what's happening. Fix it,' " says Omidyar. "Meg's response was to learn everything she could possibly learn."

Flexibility is key in the rapid-fire new economy. Many of these women inherited that trait from their mothers (see "Behind Every Powerful Woman There Is...a Woman") and developed it early on. Carly Fiorina lived in several countries (including Ghana during high school) and drifted for years, even dropping out of law school, before she settled on her career. Dina Dublon was born in Brazil and raised in Israel. She first came to the U.S. on a year-long, post-college backpacking trek. The Chase CFO, elegant and intellectually commanding, doesn't seem the type to have had a free-spirited past. But she did. "It gave me the confidence to do things my own way," she says.

Among the newcomers, Joy Covey has led the most unfettered life. Actually, her life has been a lot like her company, unconventional, expansive, high risk, with a pitch that goes something like this: "It may not seem logical, but trust me. I know where I'm going. And it's far." Covey is the younger of two daughters of a Northern California doctor and nurse. They were frugal, self-reliant parents. "They had a complete and utter disregard for social expectations," says Covey, 36. She did too. Bored with school during her freshman year at San Mateo High, she dropped out. Did her parents come down hard on her? "No," says Covey. "They knew it wouldn't do any good. I thought, They won't beat me or throw me out. If I don't obey, what can they do? I decided, there's no more following the rules." Actually, she did follow some rules: She returned to school for one more year. Then she used her 173 IQ to pass California's high school-equivalency exam. At 19, she graduated from California State University at Fresno and took the CPA exam (scoring second best in the country that year). After working at the accounting firm Arthur Young for a while, she headed to Harvard to collect an MBA and a law degree.

Three years ago, following an interlude in Silicon Valley, Covey arrived in Seattle, pumped at the prospect of being a pioneer. was then an unproven e-commerce curiosity. "I thought, Wouldn't it be great to build one of those new business models like Microsoft or Intel or Dell?" She helped break retailing out of its box and did the same with her job as CFO. Covey has been an unusually influential finance chief, working with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to recruit senior management and steer the company into businesses far beyond books. Says Bezos: "I can budget only four days a year to talk to investors, so Joy has been's primary contact with Wall Street. In the Internet space, that's really unusual. She's doing what a CEO would normally do."

Covey is a sports fanatic who goes rock-climbing and wakeboarding (for the uninitiated, that's snow-boarding behind a boat). But even at work, she is altogether unbound. During a dinner last year at a Seattle restaurant to celebrate Amazon's big junk-bond offering (the first by an Internet company), she joined her boss on the floor for a round of leg wrestling. "She won," Bezos says. Recently, when Covey said she wanted a new position as chief strategist, Bezos says the decision was easy. "Joy is really good at figuring out what's going to be important six months from now, which, in Internet companies, is very hard to do."

Foreseeing the trends has never been more difficult. That is largely how Internet analyst Mary Meeker has gained her standing. Meeker, 40, who joined Morgan Stanley's tech research group in 1991, is regarded as a prophetic tracker and promoter of Internet stocks. She hasn't downgraded a single issue since she moved AOL from "strong buy" to "outperform" in early 1997. (Three months later she upgraded it.) Critics may think of her as a one-note cheerleader ("Buy!"). But she also has a crucial role, as a strategic consultant to Morgan Stanley's investment bankers, to pick the winners and make sure clients spend the money wisely. Says Joy Covey, who has worked with Meeker on several deals: "Mary is constantly saying to us, 'Why aren't you doing this? You gotta push this harder.' Other analysts do that, but not in the same way Mary does."

Working so intimately with bankers and clients, Meeker has indeed become Queen of the Net. She has advised on 26 IPOs--Intuit, Netscape, @Home,, Ariba--and various debt and equity deals for AOL, Amazon, and eBay. She wasn't always in such good standing with eBay. "Morgan Stanley wanted to do our IPO," says Whitman. "But Mary was incredibly busy and didn't do the greatest job in the pitch. So we chose Goldman. Mary spent a lot of time with me after that and earned her way back. She's pushed me to consider what adjacent businesses to go into, and in what order. She constantly has ideas."

Meeker says the favorite part of her job is "taking companies public and helping them grow. The way I'll measure myself is by how much wealth I helped create in all the companies I've covered." The total so far: more than $700 billion, though Meeker's rival Internet analysts have also helped pump up the wealth.

This sort of influence invites controversy. There are many criticisms of Meeker: That she uses her "buy" ratings as bribes to win new business for Morgan Stanley. ("I call things as I see them," she says, noting that she's looked at about 1,000 companies over the years and chosen to follow only the best few.) That she is arrogant ("If a CEO doesn't ask, 'How can I do better? What do you think?' that's not a CEO we want to work with," she says.) That she's too self-important to talk to the public via TV ("It's not my job. I work for long-term investors, and I can't be beholden to the day-trading masses.") And that she's always frazzled. ("Yeah, that's probably true," she says. "By the way, anyone who covers this industry is frazzled.")

Meeker wasn't always frazzled or controversial. Growing up in tiny Portland, Ind., she was strait-laced, smart, and athletic: a "model kid," she says. Well into adulthood, she was a competitive but calm "type B person." Then the Internet changed everything. "I can go from being hysterical--well, very direct and loud and upset--to being over it five minutes later," she says. "If I didn't emote, it would be impossible to do my job." Her power has its limits. "I can't control the pace of the Internet," she says. "It is what it is. Frenetic." She adds, "If the Internet hadn't come along, I'd probably be managing money and raising three kids in Greenwich." Does she want that someday? "Yeah, absolutely. That said, I'm having a blast with this stuff."

This brings to mind the rumor that's been circulating for a while--that Meeker is going to trade in her fame and frazzled existence at Morgan Stanley for an easier and potentially more lucrative job at a hedge fund or a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, such as Kleiner Perkins. How does Meeker respond when those people call? "What I say is, 'I think I'm doing what I do best right here.' " Although she has plenty of help--Morgan Stanley's Internet research group has expanded from one person (Meeker) to 12 in a year--she still feels stretched. "With each year the stress rises," she says. "I love playing a role in building a lot of companies, but I worry that the enjoyment is going to come out of it as the volatility increases, as expectations get higher, as the landscape gets so competitive that it's dysfunctional." Besides all that, there is also the pressure of one of her stocks going belly-up. "I fully expect that one of my favorite stocks is going to be a disaster," she says. "The thing that drives me crazy is that I don't know which one."

A certain comfort with ambiguity--even a faith in serendipity--has helped many women in the Power 50 succeed. One is Pattie Dunn, chairman of Barclays Global Investors and also a Hewlett-Packard board member. She's the daughter of a vaudevillian and a showgirl. "Not your average central-casting family," she says. Growing up in Las Vegas in the '60s, she carpooled to Our Lady of Las Vegas grammar school with dancers and magicians and got to know all sorts of creative people--Walt Disney, Lena Horne--her father brought home for dinner. "I never felt any sense of limitation," says Dunn, 46. "No one ever said to me, 'You should do this.'"

She wanted to become a journalist, specifically a footloose, muckraking foreign correspondent. But just when she was about to give it a try, her mother got sick. Because a bad second marriage had left her mother broke, with a 6-year-old son, Pattie felt she needed to find a real job and become the family breadwinner. Starting as a temporary secretary at the firm that is now BGI (part of Wells Fargo then, it was bought by Barclays in 1995), Dunn refused a permanent position because, as she says, "I had no intention of working for a bank. I thought I'd rather take chloroform and die."

But she liked the place, was eager to learn, and over 23 years worked in virtually every part of the company. Dunn got noticed as the versatile star with great people skills inside a highly technical, even geeky, organization. Andrea Zulberti, BGI's head of global risk management, recalls working on a transaction that required a middle-of-the-night conference call with Barclays' top brass in London. "Pattie said to me, 'Come to my house. Bring your jammies.' She knew I could handle it, but she wanted to be there supporting me." When the deal closed, Zulberti says, "I got a nice note and flowers from Pattie within hours."

Most of these women thrive on being different. Nancy Peretsman, the investment banker at Allen & Co., has been an iconoclast all her life. Growing up in Worcester, Mass., she was bored with high school, so, like Joy Covey, she dropped out. On the basis of high SAT scores, Peretsman was admitted to Princeton (alma mater of Heidi Miller and Meg Whitman) when it was still a male bastion. "That was an attraction more than a negative," she says. "It made it a huge challenge. Or maybe I was just acting out my deep psychological imbalance."

Brash and funny, Peretsman, 45, was one of the few women at Salomon Brothers in the '80s, the heyday of insider trading and sexual harassment on Wall Street (not that sexual harassment has disappeared on Wall Street). "I just kept thinking, I don't want to be them--those self-absorbed, self-centered, opportunistic deal guys who gave this industry a terrible reputation," she says. She stayed at Salomon 13 years, creating and heading the firm's worldwide media business. "That I've survived is a great validation," she says. "The good guys win."

Of course, she's done much more than survive. At Allen & Co. since 1995, Peretsman has represented CBS in its sale to Westinghouse, advised MediaOne in its pending sale to AT&T, advised Oprah Winfrey in her new partnership with Gerry Laybourne's Oxygen Media, and persuaded Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to put $100 million into Oxygen. Herb Allen says he's not quite sure why, but Peretsman handles Allen & Co.'s most difficult deals, not to mention its toughest clients--like Barry Diller. "She has a complex mind, and she thoroughly enjoys the intellectual process," Allen says. "Oh, she moans and groans, but she loves solving problems."

Jay Walker, the founder and chairman of, says Peretsman put her faith in his company early on. She coaxed billionaires Paul Allen and John Malone to invest $40 million. "Nancy is the confidante of about 20 moguls, most of whom probably wouldn't talk to each other except to scream," Walker says. "She's the last of a generation of investment bankers whose power is in their long-term relationships." Says Peretsman, who is about $60 million richer because of the priceline IPO: "I love it that I have a good reputation in an industry that has a terrible reputation."

Accustomed to being outsiders, the women on our list see advantages to being female in a man's world. Says Nina DiSesa, the creative force behind the turnaround of the world's largest ad agency, McCann-Erickson: "Competing in a man's world is what I want to do. I'm very much in touch with my male side. I'm really competitive, and I find confrontation stimulating. But I keep those qualities in check. I use my feminine traits--empathy, collaboration."

Vivacious and irreverent, DiSesa, 53, has brightened McCann's once colorless advertising with sharp campaigns for Lucent ("We make the things that make communications work"), as well as other technology companies like Motorola, Gateway, Sprint, and Hewlett-Packard's impending spinoff, Agilent--all new clients in the past few years. Inside McCann, which recently won the Microsoft account, DiSesa has helped humanize what had been the roughest culture on Madison Avenue. "Being a woman in this job is important," she says. "I'm dealing with big egos, big personalities. Fragile, high-maintenance people. If I didn't have a strong nurturing component, I couldn't do it."

No one has used personality and style to better effect than Debby Hopkins. Bold and boisterous in colorful designer suits and flowing Escada scarves, she comes across like a rainbow-colored Delta rocket. She arrived at Boeing from General Motors, where she was CFO for Europe, to revamp the aircraft company's archaic financial system. "I told her, 'Blow it up and start over,' " says Harry Stonecipher, the company's blustery president. But Hopkins, 44, is doing much more than standard CFO work. As she describes it, she is "putting my nose into everything"--touring the factories, urging changes in manufacturing, even helping to choose a new ad agency. (The winner: DiSesa's shop, McCann-Erickson.) "Phil [Condit] and Harry basically told me, 'You go, girl!'" Hopkins says.

To be a successful CFO, particularly at a troubled corporation like Boeing, Hopkins believes she must play both teacher and cheerleader. On her first day at Boeing she went on-stage before the company's top 300 executives and proceeded to explain why their business plan was all wrong. Using a pen and a flip chart, she said, "Finance is not that complicated. Let me show you how this thing works." Harry Stonecipher was in the room. "She owned them from that moment on," he says. "I thought to myself, 'If we can just stand this lady up in front of everyone.' She grabs their hearts and minds." She's grabbing investors' wallets too: Boeing stock is up 31% since she flew in.

Where will America's leading women go from here? It depends just how far from traditional roles and conventional lifestyles they're willing to veer. The female advantage is having plenty of choices; the female burden is having to make them. Meg Whitman says that at least half her friends from Princeton and Harvard Business School have quit the business world to be full-time wives and mothers. Whitman herself says that eBay will be her last full-time job. "This is it. I don't think it gets any better than this." She says that she'll spend no more than five years at eBay, after which she would like to join some corporate boards, and maybe the Princeton board. Citigroup's Heidi Miller might recruit her: Miller says she would like to be Princeton's president someday.

The biggest adjustment, of course, is raising a family and managing a high-powered career. A few of the women on our cover appear to do this magically. Miller's husband is a partner at Ernst & Young; they have two sons. "I haven't had to make concessions," maintains Miller, a statement that seems hard to believe, particularly because she spends a quarter of her time traveling. Whitman has been married for 20 years to a neurosurgeon. He works about 70 hours a week--less than she--so he now does what she used to do: eat dinner with their sons and handle family finances. Shelly Lazarus, the CEO of ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, has been married to a Manhattan pediatrician for 29 years. They have three children. Being a mom, she says, has made her a better leader: "There's a sort of unconditional love that develops when you're a mother. You believe in people, and you accept their weaknesses, their frailties, their moments of irrationality. That's what helps build very strong teams."

To combine work and family, many of these women (and their husbands) have chosen unconventional relationships. The husband of Schwab vice chairman Dawn Lepore left his programming job at Visa when she gave birth to their first child, Andrew, early last year. Now he's the stay-at-home parent. Cynthia Trudell's husband, a high school math teacher, stopped working for long stretches during her high-speed career. "A lot of times, the husband holds the talented woman back," Saturn's new president says. "I've had the fortunate situation of not having a glass ceiling in my marriage."

Nor has Carly Fiorina. Sixteen years ago, when Frank Fiorina met her at AT&T, he told her, "You're going to run a big company someday, and I'm going to help you get there." Last year the Fiorinas decided that life is too short--and too chaotic--for dual careers, so Frank retired from AT&T at 48. After he moves the couple out of their New Jersey home, he'll spend time traveling with Carly. When Debby Hopkins' husband, David, heard about Frank Fiorina's liberating decision, he came home to Debby shouting, "Yes! Yes!" Recently retired from GM, he's now fully engaged with the kids (they have two) and his wife's career. "My husband is my career manager," says Hopkins, who would like to be a FORTUNE 500 CEO someday.

Heidi Miller notwithstanding, power does require sacrifice. Many women on our list delayed marriage and children. "I wouldn't have this job if I had had kids," says Nina DiSesa, who married an ad executive late in life. Nancy Peretsman, who has a 10-year-old daughter, says: "You can have a very successful career and maybe have more than one child. It depends on how many hours your husband works, and how much time he has to help you. It's math." Both Peretsman and her husband, Bob Scully, a vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, work typical investment banker hours. "We don't go out. We're not social. My choice," she says.

Joy Covey's partner, a cardiac anesthesiologist, followed her from California to Seattle three years ago, when she joined Last November they wed on a snow-packed ridge near Park City, Utah. "A simple ski slope seemed too conventional," says Covey. What about children? "I wouldn't even consider it right now," she says. "I've begun to realize that I can't have it all. I used to think I could if I scheduled artfully enough. But you have to make choices."

So what about that glass ceiling? After Carly Fiorina got her coveted CEO title, she was quoted in the press as saying, "I hope we're at a point that everyone has figured out that there is not a glass ceiling." She took lots of heat for this, especially from women--some on our list--who think she's flat-out wrong. Fiorina stands by her statement: "It happens to be what I believe," she says. "Sure, there are barriers at companies that haven't woken up to competition. But at companies competing hard to win every day, there is not a glass ceiling."

If Fiorina is an obvious role model for women--a mantle she claims not to want--she is a model for men as well, a role she accepts. In her view, power flows to men and women alike who think of themselves as self-directed free agents. Now that's a nice twist--young businessmen wanting to grow up and be like...Carly.