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Female power: Biggest companies run by women

General Motors CEO Mary Barra

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Biggest companies run by women

Detroit is getting some girl power: General Motors has named Mary Barra its first female CEO. When she succeeds Dan Akerson on Jan. 15, she would join the elite ranks of women at the top of the nation's biggest companies.

Still, women are underrepresented in the corner offices, making up less that 5 percent of the CEOs of the nation's biggest corporations.

Before becoming the automaker's first female CEO, Barra, 51, was executive vice president for Global Product Development and Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. She began her career at GM in 1980 as a co-op student at the Pontiac Motor Division, the company said.

Click ahead to see the women who run the 10 highest-valued corporations, based on market capitalization. (At $56.4 billion, GM's market capitalization would rank it No. 5 among female-led companies but it wasn't included in the following list because Barra doesn't take over until January.)

—By Colleen Kane and Izzy Best, CNBC.com.
Updated 10 Dec. 2013, originally posted 20 Sept. 2012.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images