15 universities that educated the world’s most powerful women

January 1, 1990
Angela Merkel, 15 universities that educated the world’s most powerful women
Source: 360b/Shutterstock.com


17 July 2014
  |  By Fiona Salvage

A fundamental role for the world’s top universities is the development of future global leaders – be it in politics, business or arts and culture.

So Times Higher Education put universities’ records to the test, by investigating which institutions were responsible for helping the world’s most powerful women to the top.

Of the 87 women on the Forbes World's 100 Most Powerful Women 2014 list who have at least one degree, 45 graduated from just 15 universities, of which all but two are US institutions.

Top of the list is Harvard University, whose own president, Drew Gilpin Faust, ranks at number 33 on Forbes’ list.

Only one institution is from Asia: the National University of Singapore, with three graduates – Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organisation; Chua Sock Koong, the chief executive of SingTel; and Ho Ching, chief executive of Temasek Holdings.

Europe’s only representative is the UK’s University of Cambridge with two graduates: Arianna Huffington, chair of Huffington Post Media Group, and Zhang Xin, the chief executive of commercial real estate giant SOHO China.

The US institutions are dominated by the Ivy League – Harvard, Pennsylvania, Cornell, Yale, Columbia and Princeton.

Our list, below, includes all higher education institutions with more than one graduate on the Forbes list.

Institution

Graduates

Degrees

Harvard University

13

14

University of Pennsylvania

7

9

Cornell University

4

6

Stanford University

4

5

Yale University

4

4

Duke University

3

4

Northwestern University

3

4

National University of Singapore

3

3

Georgetown University

2

3

University of Cambridge

2

2

Columbia University

2

2

Princeton University

2

2

University of California, Berkeley

2

2

University of California, Los Angeles

2

2

University of Wisconsin

2

2


While US institutions dominate the list, the top 10 most powerful women named by Forbes come from a far wider variety of institutions, with universities from Germany, Brazil and France joining the usual US Ivy League suspects. The most powerful woman in the world, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, attended Universität Leipzig, Germany. The table below shows the alma mater of each of the top 10 women.

 

Name

Country

Category

Alma mater/First degree

Angela Merkel

DEU

Politics

Leipzig University
MSc, Physics

Janet Yellen

USA

Finance

Brown University
Bachelor of Arts/Science

Melinda Gates

USA

Philanthropy/NGO

Duke University
BSc, Computer science and economics

Dilma Rousseff

BRA

Politics

Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul
Bachelor of Arts/Science

Christine Lagarde

FRA

Philanthropy/NGO

Paris West University Nanterre La Défense
Master’s degrees in English, labour law and social law

Hillary Clinton

USA

Politics

Wellesley College
BA, Political science

Mary Barra

USA

Business

Kettering University
BSc, Electrical engineering

Michelle Obama

USA

Politics

Princeton University
BA, Sociology

Sheryl Sandberg

USA

Technology

Harvard University
BA, Economics

Virginia Rometty

USA

Technology

Northwestern University
Computer science and engineering


Didn’t go to university

  • Beyoncé Knowles, singer and actor
  • Queen Elizabeth II, head of state of the UK
  • Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue
  • Shakira Mebarak, singer-songwriter, record producer
  • Gisele Bündchen, model, actor, producer and the goodwill ambassador for the UN Environment Programme
  • Folorunsho Alakija, founder and owner of Famfa Oil
  • Angelina Jolie, actor, film director, screenwriter, author and UN Special Envoy for Refugee Issues

Note:
The educational history of the top 100 most powerful women was taken from publicly available biographical information, where available.

 

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