At Davos, Pioneering Women Are Chosen to Lead Again



When she is not pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge, Dr. Gianotti’s other passion is music: She is a dedicated pianist.


Jacky Naegelen/Reuters

Christine Lagarde

Managing director of the International Monatery Fund in Washington

Christine Lagarde has been a trailblazer throughout her career in both her native France and abroad, dotted with many a “first woman to hold the position of” preface.

After earning a law degree in Paris and a master’s in political science, she worked as a lawyer for nearly 25 years at Baker McKenzie in Chicago, becoming the firm’s first chairwoman.

In 2005, she was appointed France’s trade minister, and in 2007 she became minister of finance, the first woman to hold the latter position not only in France but in any of the Group of 8 countries. She became the first woman to lead the International Monetary Fund in 2011.

In 2016, she was one of 17 French female former government ministers who signed an op-ed article published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche decrying sexism and sexual harassment in French politics.


Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ginni Rometty

Chairwoman, president and chief executive of IBM, New York

Ginni Rometty has been at the helm of IBM since 2012, when she became the company’s first female chief executive. She joined IBM in 1981 as a systems engineer, after having worked at General Motors. Ms. Rometty studied computer science and electrical engineering on a scholarship provided by General Motors at Northwestern University.

Forbes has ranked her 10th on its list of the world’s 100 most powerful women (2017) and 61st among the world’s most powerful people (2016).

At IBM, she has championed diversity initiatives, leading the women in technology council and the women’s leadership council.


Chetna Gala Sinha

Founder and president of the Mann Deshi Mahila Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation in India

A woman of many talents, Chetna Gala Sinha has been working for social change in her native India since 1986.

In 1987, she left Mumbai for Mhaswad, a drought-prone area in western India, where she and her husband, Vijay Sinha, an activist and farmer, worked in agriculture. Witnessing the difficulties that women faced in the region, she chose to focus on teaching them entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy to empower them and offer them more independence.

In 1997, she founded India’s first rural cooperative bank owned by women: the Mann Deshi Mahila Bank, which provides women with access to financial services, business loans and training. In its first two decades, the bank has reached over 200,000 women in Maharashtra, a state in the western region.

A Yale World Fellow in 2002 and an Ashoka Fellow in 1996, Ms. Sinha last year received the Forbes India Leadership Award for an entrepreneur with social impact.


Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Erna Solberg

Prime minister of Norway

Nicknamed Norway’s Angela Merkel, Erna Solberg was elected in 2013 and again in 2017, becoming the first Conservative prime minister to win a second term since 1985. Ms. Solberg leads a right-wing coalition and is the second woman to serve as prime minister of the Scandinavian country. In 2016, she was appointed a leader of the United Nations secretary general’s Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group.

Ms. Solberg has led the Conservative Party since 2004 and represented it in Storting (Parliament) since 1989. From 2001 to 2005, as minister of local government and regional development under Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, she earned the title “Iron Erna” for her tough stance on immigration.

After her re-election, she appointed women to the posts of finance minister and foreign minister. For the first time, the three top posts in Norway’s cabinet are held by women.

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