100 years of power

From Mary Pickford to Carly Fiorina, the most powerful businesswomen by decade.

Ida Rosenthal (1886-1973)
1950-1960: Honorable Mention
Ida Rosenthal (1886-1973)
President and Founder, Maidenform Bra

A world without a bra: That was the case until the Roaring Twenties. The fashion of that era was dominated by a certain flat-chested boyish look - one that did not work for all women. Ida Rosenthal, a Russian immigrant; her dressmaker husband, William; and their business partner, Enid Bissett, made dresses for those women, and realized that their chests could use a little lift. So they fashioned two cup-shaped pieces, then linked them with a simple elastic band.

These prototype bras were sewn into the dresses they created; by 1921, they were being sold separately, and a few years later the partnership decided to focus solely on bras.

By the early 1930s, the bra was a staple item. Maidenform was in its glory in the 1950s, with 10% of the U.S. bra market and considerable buzz on the back of its faintly scandalous "I dreamed I went shopping in my Maidenform bra" campaign.

Rosenthal managed the company's finances, negotiated with workers, increased productivity and identified the creative talent necessary to create memorable marketing campaigns. Following her husband's death in 1958, Ida stepped down as president but remained active in the company to the end.

Mary Pickford

C.J. Walker

Elizabeth Arden

Lila Acheson Wallace

Mary Gindhart Roebling

Olive Ann Beech

Margaret Rudkin

Ida Rosenthal

Ruth Handler

Estée Lauder

Katharine Graham

Catherine Cleary

Linda Wachner

Carly Fiorina
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