Most people think that beautiful women have it all over their less attractive counterparts, but that isn’t really the case. According to a 2010 University of Colorado Denver Business School study, beautiful women actually have to deal with discrimination when it comes to being hired for and attaining recognition in particular types of jobs. More specifically, attractive women were found to face an uphill climb in fields that are perceived to be masculine; these include research and development, finance, engineering, and construction, among others. Interestingly, but also disturbingly, attractive men were found not to face this type of discrimination.
Nevertheless, despite the special challenges they may have had to deal with, numerous attractive women have managed to excel in their particular fields. In fact, in the 2015 edition of Forbes’s list of the world’s most powerful women, several of the females named are especially attractive.
Here are ten of the hottest women who have managed to find themselves in powerful positions within their respective industries:
10. Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama‘s critics readily point out that her position of power only became available to her when her husband was elected into the Oval Office. But the First Lady should also be given credit for aggressively pushing her own initiatives. One of them is her first administration-wide initiative called the Let’s Move! campaign, which aims to address childhood obesity. Furthermore, in March of 2015, Mrs. Obama embarked on a five-day trip to Asia for the purpose of promoting the education of millions of girls throughout the world. It should also be noted that Michelle has managed to build her image as a prominent pop culture figure, being named to lists like Essence‘s “25 of the World’s Most Inspiring Women” in 2006 and Vanity Fair‘s “10 of the World’s Best Dressed People” in 2007. For these reasons, it shouldn’t be surprising that Forbes considers Mrs. Obama the 10th most powerful woman in the world.
9. Sara Blakely
When Sara Blakely was working as a door-to-door fax salesman, she appreciated how control-top pantyhose made her body seem firmer. However, she disliked how the garment made her feet appear seamed when she wore open-toed shoes, and this led the 29-year-old American to spend her $5000 savings to research on and develop a unique type of hosiery. The product eventually became the cornerstone product for Spanx, which today generates more than $250 million in annual revenues. Needless to say, the 44-year-old Blakely, who still owns 100% of her company, has grown extremely wealthy, with Forbes reporting her net worth to be at $1 billion. In 2015, the publication also named the Atlanta Hawks minority owner the 91st most powerful woman in the world and the 17th richest self-made woman in America.
8. Shakira Mebarak
Some people might wonder, “Yes, Shakira is well-known, but is she really among the most powerful women in the world?” The answer is a definite “Yes.” Unbeknownst to many, the Colombian singer/songwriter holds several records, including the 21st century’s best-selling record (Hips Don’t Lie with over 10 million units sold worldwide), the best-selling World Cup song of all time (Waka Waka with nearly 10 million units sold worldwide), and the first person to attain 100 million followers on Facebook. Shakira is also a philanthropist, having established the Barefoot Foundation to support early education systems worldwide. In addition, she is currently a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has been recognized by Forbes as being the 81st most powerful woman in the world.
7. Tory Burch
In April of 2005, Oprah Winfrey called Tory Burch “the next big thing in fashion,” and everything changed for the designer after that. Her Burch website registered 8,000,000 hits the next day, no doubt contributing to her brand now having more than 140 stores all over the world. In fact, her retail empire is today worth more than $3 billion, while her personal net worth sits at $1 billion. Listed by Forbes as the 73rd most powerful woman in the world, the UPenn alumna actually started her company by offering $200 ballet flats of practically every imaginable color. But today, Tory’s brand is also offering watches, fragrances, and cosmetics, among others. As a result of her success, in 2014, U.S. President Obama named the self-made billionaire an Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.
6. Angelina Jolie
Heralded by Forbes as the 54th most powerful woman in the world, Angelina Jolie made headlines when she decided to have her ovaries removed to reduce her risk of developing cancer. The procedure was performed two years after the mother of six learned that she was suffering from an increased risk of fatal breast cancer, which prompted her to undergo a double mastectomy. Jolie has been widely praised for the move and has turned her into an unofficial spokesperson for women’s health issues. And today, having recovered sufficiently from the procedures she underwent, Angelina is back in full swing as she directs and stars with her husband in the upcoming drama By the Sea. Jolie is also continuing her human rights endeavors as a United Nations special envoy for refugees.
5. Marissa Mayer
40-year-old Marissa Mayer is the President and Chief of Yahoo!, positions that have made her among America’s highest-paid CEOs. 40th on the list of the world’s most powerful women, the Stanford University alumna has been focusing on upgrading the content of her site. So far, Mayer has hired well-known journalists Matt Bai and Katie Couric to join the Yahoo! team and has also been taking aggressive steps to boost earnings from the company’s mobile applications. And just very recently, Yahoo! scored a coup by earning the rights to live-stream a National Football League (NFL) game for free for the first time, an event that will take place on October 25. Hopefully, the recent development will improve Yahoo!’s financial performance as investors have been calling for the company to boost its revenues. Meanwhile, Mayer herself is doing just fine with her $380 million personal net worth.
4. Sofía Vergara
Sofía Vergara may be hilarious, but her paycheck certainly isn’t. In fact, the 57th most powerful woman in the world is the highest-paid actress on TV, her Modern Family take reportedly pegged at $325,000 for each episode. Recently, however, Sofía has been dogged by the controversial attempt of her ex-fiancé, Nick Loeb, to claim ownership of the frozen embryos that the couple had previously asked to be stored. But Vergara has refused to pay much attention to the legal challenge, declaring, “I promote all my movies, all my work, but I don’t like promoting my private life. And I don’t . . . want to allow this person to take more advantage of my career and try to promote himself and get press for this.” The dismissive reaction is understandable as the 42-year-old actress is planning to wed Joe Manganiello later this year.
3. Beyoncé Knowles
In June of 2014, Beyoncé topped the Forbes Celebrity 100 List, and roughly a year later, she has been named the 21st most powerful woman in the world, making her the highest-ranked celebrity in the list. Yes, things certainly seem to be going well for Jay-Z’s famous missus. After the couple wrapped up a hugely successful On the Run tour, Beyoncé kept up the momentum with her solo Mrs. Carter Show World Tour and the release of a surprise album in 2013. Recently, however, Knowles has been focusing more attention on her humanitarian work. Last May, she accompanied Baroness Amos, the U.N.’s humanitarian chief, to Haiti for the inspection of areas devastated by a 2010 earthquake.
2. Yao Chen
Most of those outside China who know Yao Chen are quite impressed by how she has utilized her fame. With more than 71 million Weibo followers, the actress has brought refugee causes in faraway places like Lebanon and Ethiopia to the attention of her countrymen. Yao says it was Angelina Jolie who inspired her to accept her role as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. But the Chinese government would probably prefer that Chen focus only on causes outside of her country; some of her Weibo posts have touched on political hot topics in China, including the censorship of media and pollution in the country. But her courage to take on difficult issues is probably one of the reasons why Yao Chen has been named the 82nd most powerful woman in the world.
1. Taylor Swift
While Taylor Swift was influential when she was churning out country hits, her shift to full-blown pop music has transformed her into a media monster. Her album 1989 has sold 4.5 million copies, and in so doing has outsold Swift’s two most previous albums (2012’s Red and 2010’s Speak Now) despite being available in stores for under a year. And just a few weeks ago, Swift’s star-studded music video for Bad Blood, the fourth single from 1989, broke Vevo’s 24-hour viewing record with 20.1 million views on its first day. Keeping with her good-girl image, Taylor has also been busy with various causes, including those involving children’s literacy, art education, and LGBT rights. In recognition of Taylor’s efforts, First Lady Michelle Obama presented her with The Big Help Award in 2012. No wonder the beautiful 25-year-old is recognized as the world’s 64th most powerful woman.
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