The 10 Highest-Paid Women in Business and How They Got There

Mandatory Credit: Photo by James Atoa/UPI/Shutterstock (13697726x)CEO of AMD, Lisa Su speaks on stage during the 2023 International CES, at the Venetian Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday, January 4, 2023.
James Atoa/UPI/Shutterstock / James Atoa/UPI/Shutterstock

Women are outnumbered when it comes to men in executive positions. Of the 340 S&P 500 companies’ CEOs, just 18 are women. However, those women saw a 26.4% increase in their salaries between 2020 and 2021. The lowest-paid S&P 500 CEO still made over $7 million a year. 

What does it take to be a woman making millions a year? Each of the women on this list has a different experience that helped take her to the top of her field. Here’s a look at how the highest-paid women in business earned their fortunes.

Also, see the state of women and money in 2023.

Corie Barry

  • Title: CEO of Best Buy
  • Total Yearly Compensation: $15,631,157

Barry has been the CEO of Best Buy since 2019, but she has been working at the company since 1999. Barry worked her way through the ranks, first as a senior financial analyst. Before becoming CEO, she served as the electronics giant’s executive vice president and chief financial officer from 2016 to 2019. 

Barbara Rentler

  • Title: CEO of Ross
  • Total Yearly Compensation: $15,989,635

Rentler is another example of what can happen when you work your way up at a company. Rentler first started working at Ross in 1986. In her 36 years at the company, she has held many positions, including president and chief merchandising officer. She became CEO in 2021. In addition to being the CEO, she’s also on the board of directors. 

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Jayshree Ullal

  • Title: CEO of Arista Networks
  • Total Yearly Compensation: $15,993,632

Ullal has served as president and CEO of Arista Networks, a computer networking firm, since 2008. She also has been on the board of directors of Snowflake, a cloud computing company, since 2020. Before working at Arista, Ullal worked at Cisco. 

Lynn J. Good

  • Title: CEO of Duke Energy
  • Total Yearly Compensation: $16,174,125

Good became CEO of Duke Energy in 2013. Before that, she was the company’s chief financial officer. Before going to Duke, she worked at Cinergy, which merged with Duke Energy. Good currently serves on the boards of directors for Boeing, the Business Roundtable, the Edison Electric Institute, Foundation For The Carolinas, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, the World Association of Nuclear Operators, myFutureNC and New York City Ballet.

Gail K. Boudreaux

  • Title: CEO of Elevance Health
  • Total Yearly Compensation: $19,348,241

This isn’t the first time Boudreaux has served as CEO. Before taking the position at Elevance Health in 2017, she was CEO of UnitedHealthcare from 2011 to 2014. Her healthcare resume was filled out before that as executive vice president of Health Care Services Corporation and earlier as president of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois.

Kathy J. Warden

  • Title: CEO of Northrop Grumman
  • Total Yearly Compensation: $19,505,303

Warden has been CEO since 2019, the same year she was elected chair of the Northrop Grumman board of directors. Before becoming CEO and president, Warden served as president and chief operating officer. Previously, she served as corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman’s Mission Systems and Information Systems sectors. 

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Adena T. Friedman

  • Title: CEO of Nasdaq
  • Total Yearly Compensation: $19,965,893

Friedman has served as president and CEO of Nasdaq since 2017. She’s also the chair of the board of directors. Prior to being named CEO, Friedman served as president and COO throughout 2016. Before that, she served as CFO and managing director of The Carlyle Group from March 2011 to June 2014.

Phebe N. Novakovic

  • Title: CEO of General Dynamics
  • Total Yearly Compensation: $23,553,862

Novakovic is the first woman on the list to crack $20 million a year. She has served as CEO and chairwoman of General Dynamics since 2013. Before that, she was the president and COO of General Dynamics in 2012 and executive vice president of Marine Systems from 2010 to 2012.

Mary T. Barra 

  • Title: CEO of General Motors
  • Total Yearly Compensation: $29,136,780

Barra has served as CEO of GM since Jan. 15, 2014, and has been the chair of the GM board of directors since 2016. Barra started her tenure at GM in 2011 as senior vice president of global product development. 

Lisa T. Su 

  • Title: CEO of Advanced Micro Devices
  • Total Yearly Compensation: $29,498,107

At the top of the list, making nearly $30 million a year, is Su, who has been the president and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) since 2014. Before that, she was the senior vice president and general manager of global business units at AMD. Before AMD, she served 15 years in the semiconductor industry in various engineering and GM roles at Freescale and IBM.

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Editor’s note: All compensation numbers are from the 2022 Associated Press CEO pay study.

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