Profit Over Politics

When Forbes magazine released its ranking of the 100 most powerful women in the world last week, the list reflected more than a few changes since 2004 -- mostly less politics, more business.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Wu Yi, China's minister of health, still came in at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, but after that, all bets were off. Getting sacked from HP knocked Carly Fiorina from the list completely, but other female executives more than made up for the gap, including Meg Whitman (eBay), Brenda Barnes (Sara Lee), Anne Mulcahy (Xerox) and Sallie Krawcheck (Citigroup). Public-sector stars Sonia Gandhi, Laura Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were all pushed down to make way for these moneymakers.

So does this mean that there are better opportunities for women in business now than in politics?

Not necessarily, says Jo Miller, a women's leadership coach in San Jose whose clients include women in a variety of jobs, such as software developers and rabbis. More likely, it's just that business is what has been on our collective minds this year. "It's not been a big year in politics," Miller said.

Besides, it is a business magazine.

-- Mary Ellen Slayter