Want to Run a Top Company? Study Science

More than 30 percent of the women on Fortune's Most Powerful Women in Business list studied science for their undergraduate degree, including number one Ginni Rometty, Chairman and CEO of IBM. Click through above to meet the other powerful women who spend their young years conducting experiments and solving equations in hallowed university halls. They range from Yahoo!'s CEO Marissa Mayer, who specialized in artificial intelligence while earning her B.S. in symbolic systems from Stanford, to Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO at J.P. Morgan Asset Management and the only woman to complete a math major at Georgetown in 1989.

These women have a variety of business experiences and run different kinds of companies, but it seems one common denominator is a penchant for STEM fields. Hopefully as programs like Girls Who Code gain traction and women like Megan Smith ascend to the White House, we'll see more and more women launching into science degrees.


Ginni Rometty studied computer science and electrical engineering at Northwestern, setting the foundation for her number one spot on Fortune's list of Most Powerful Women and her role as Chairman and CEO at IBM.

Mary Barra, the first female CEO of a major global automaker, studied electrical engineering at General Motors Institute (now Kettering). She's now CEO of GM, and number two on Fortune's list. She'll be featured in our upcoming Women in Business documentary.

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, has a bachelor’s degree in physics, chemistry, mathematics from Madras Christian College. 

Ellen Kullman--President, Chair, and CEO of DuPont--studied mechanical engineering at Tufts University for her undergraduate degree. She's number six on Fortune's list.

Meg Whitman, the chairman, president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard initially wanted to be a doctor, so she studied math and science at Princeton University. But after spending a summer selling magazine ads, she switched to economics for her B.A. Here Meg's story in her own words.

Lynn Good is CEO of Duke Energy, a Fortune 500 company. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Systems Analysis and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Miami University in Oxford Ohio.

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! and the 16th most powerful woman in business according to Fortune, graduated with honors from Stanford University with a B.S. in symbolic systems and an M.S. in computer science. She specialized in artificial intelligence. Hear Marissa talk about her experience in school on MAKERS.

Ursula Burns, MAKER and CEO of Xerox Corp, earned a bachelor of science in Mechanical Engineering from New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering, then a master of science in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia a year later.  She talked to MAKERS about what it takes to become a CEO.

Sheri McCoy, CEO of Avon Products and number 27 on Fortune’s list, holds a B.S. in textile chemistry from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s in chemical engineering from Princeton University.

Rosalind Gates, the president and CEO of Sam’s Club, graduated with a B.S. from Spelman College before studying management at The Wharton School then law at Stanford.

Debra L. Reed, the CEO of Sempra Energy, has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Southern California. 

Mary Callahan Erdoes is CEO at J.P. Morgan Asset Management (a division of JPMorgan Chase); she majored in math at Georgetown University, the only woman to complete a math major at Georgetown at that time. She ranks number 32 on Fortune’s list.

Ilene Gordon serves as Chairman, President, and CEO of Ingredion Incorporated, a food production company. She graduated from MIT with a degree in mathematics and is number 40 on Fortune’s list of Most Powerful Women.

Sondra L. Barbour has a bachelor’s in Computer Science from Temple University. Ranked 45 on Fortune’s list, she is Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions, a leader in the aerospace and defense industry. 

Marianne Lake received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Reading University in the UK. She’s CFO of J.P. Morgan Chase. Ranked 46th on the list, Fortune calls her a “rising star.”