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.)
CEO: Ursula Burns
Company value: $14.1 billion
In 2009, Ursula Burns became the first African-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. That was 29 years after she joined Xerox as an intern in mechanical engineering. The company employs more than 140,000 people and has clients in more than 160 countries. In 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Burns vice chairwoman of the President’s Export Council.
CEO: Patricia Woertz
Company value: $28 billion
Patricia Woertz has been CEO and president of Archer Daniels Midland since 2006. A year later, she also became chairman of the board of ADM, the processor and producer of food ingredients, feed ingredients and biofuels. Woertz also serves on the boards of Procter & Gamble, the U.S. China Business Council and the President's Export Council.
CEO: Phebe N. Novakovic
Company value: $31.9 billion
President and CEO of General Dynamics from May 2012 to December 2012, Phebe N. Novakovic became chairwoman and CEO in January 2013. Before joining General Dynamics, she served as special assistant to the secretary and deputy secretary of Defense and formerly worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. Novakovic also serves on the boards of Project HOPE, the National Military Families Association and the Senior Advisory Board for the Naval Historical Foundation.
CEO: Carol Meyrowitz
Company value: $44.1 billion
Carol Meyrowitz joined TJX in 1983, and became president in 2005. She joined its board of directors the following year. TJX operates more than 2,900 discount retail stores, including TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods.
CEO: Marillyn A. Hewson
Company value: $44.5 billion
CEO of the world's largest defense company, Marillyn A. Hewson has been the CEO and president of Lockheed Martin since Jan. 1, 2013. Hewson has worked at Lockheed Martin for 30 years in several key corporate executive roles and leadership positions. She also serves on the boards of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, the USO and the National Geographic Education Foundation.
CEO: Margaret "Meg" Whitman
Company value: $52.4 billion
Meg Whitman spent 10 years as president and CEO of eBay before moving on to lead HP, the hardware and software company that provides products, technologies, solutions and services to businesses and consumers. Whitman, a Republican, made a bid for governor of California in 2010, spending $178 million but losing to Jerry Brown. It was the highest amount ever spent in a statewide campaign in California history.
CEO: Ellen Kullman
Company value: $56.9 billion
Following a three-month stint as president of E.I. du Pont de Nemours, Ellen Kullman became CEO on the first day of 2009 and then chairwoman of the board on the last day of that year. She joined the company in 1988 as a marketing manager. In addition to her roles with the chemical company, Kullman sits on the U.S.-India CEO Forum, the Business Council and is a member of the executive committee of SCI-America.
CEO: Irene Rosenfeld
Company value: $60.8 billion
Immediately following a six-year stint as CEO of Kraft, Irene Rosenfeld became chairwoman and CEO of Mondelēz International in October 2012. Mondelēz is a world leader in chocolate, biscuits, gum, candy, coffee and powdered beverages, with brands such as Cadbury, Oreo, Halls and Trident. Rosenfeld is also a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association Board of Directors and Cornell's Board of Trustees.
CEO: Indra Nooyi
Company value: $126.8 billion
Indra Nooyi became president and CEO of Pepsico in 2006 and chairwoman the following year. The multinational corporation has a portfolio of 22 brands, each generating more than $1 billion in sales annually, including Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Quaker and Tropicana.
CEO: Virginia "Ginni" Rometty
Company value: $192.7 billion
Ginni Rometty took on the role of CEO of International Business Machines in January 2012. She joined the company in 1981 and held numerous leadership roles at the multinational technology and consulting giant, which has more than 430,000 employees. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Board of Trustees of Northwestern University and the Board of Overseers and Board of Managers of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.