Top 10 Female CEOs in Movies, Ranked

Women in movies have always struggled to find their place. According to Dr. Martha M. Lauzen of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, “the percentage of top-grossing US films with female leads increased slightly from 31% in 2021 to 33% in 2022,” meaning it is rarer for a female CEO to be represented on screen. Women still struggle to succeed in the business sector in the real world, so it’s inspiring to watch and see success stories of women entrepreneurs who have overcome obstacles similar to ours, even if they are few and far between. Women must often deal with constant gender biases and stereotypes. It would make sense for us to look to our entertainment for encouragement when we need a little push and encouragement to keep fighting the good fight for equality. Strong female-led films can serve as a source of inspiration.

According to the Illinois Academy of Science and Mathematics student paper, the acronym, “Fictional Characters Can Act as Motivating Agents. Seeing an iconic character can influence the viewer to become more like that character or less like a repulsive character.” Not only are there female leads in the films on our list, but there are also female entrepreneurs and CEOs who have had to struggle to thrive in a patriarchal society. There is a Joy Mangano and a JC Wiatt for every Mark Zuckerberg and Jerry Maguire, respectively. Each of these ladies has broken down the boundaries between men and women in the workplace and continues to inspire the next generation of strong, independent women. Some of these women are based on real people, while others are entirely fictional.

10 Tess McGill – Worker (1988)

Sigourney Weaver
20th century studios

In hardworking girlSigourney Weaver character Tess McGill is an ambitious and dedicated Irish-American. She is a secretary at a stockbroker, who aspires to become an executive in the future. Tess is extremely intelligent, but her co-workers and employer treat her poorly, and she quits her job in anger at her misogynistic attitudes.

She is berated by the representative of the recruiting agency that recruited her for her actions, but she is given yet another opportunity to work as an assistant to Katharine Parker, a young employee in the Mergers and Acquisitions department of another company. Tess must endure numerous hardships to advance in the corporate world, despite Katharine’s first appearance as a helpful ally. This is because people are rarely as kind as they appear to be. And that is a life lesson we all must learn.

Related: 12 movies about women writers and artists, ranked

9 JC Wiatt – Baby Boom (1987)

baby boom 1987
UA Communications Co.

a bright JC Wiattplayed by Diane Keaton, is a workaholic management consultant in Manhattan whose life is turned upside down when she inherits a young son in baby boom. She struggles with single parenthood and gender discrimination as she tries to climb the male-dominated business ladder while raising her son alone. Whatever she decides to do, Mrs. Wiatt serves as a reminder to thank our mothers even more and a symbol of the challenge of juggling personal and professional obligations.

8 Mildred Pierce – Mildred Pierce (1945)

Mildred Pierce 1945
Warner Bros.

In Mildred Piercethe remarkable woman mildred, decides to raise her two daughters alone while supporting herself independently by selling baked goods, serving customers, and eventually starting her own restaurant after her husband leaves her for another woman. Even if you’re not a fan of black-and-white movies, this crime thriller will have you grabbing your seat and quietly rooting for Mrs. Pierce, who is played by the beautiful Joan Crawford.

Mrs. Pierce, ex-wife, current mother and successful businesswoman, inspires working women around the world despite the fact that her life continually takes a turn for the worse. She is a strong-willed and sympathetic heroine who wants the best for her children.

7 Annie Walker – Bridesmaids (2011)

Annie helps choose bridesmaid dresses
Universal Pictures

we often feel Annie Walker(Kristen Wiig)’s grief at losing her bakery business as she resents her current job as a clerk at a jewelry store in the film, bridesmaids. Naturally, that’s not what this movie is about; instead, it was designed to be a raunchy, light-hearted comedy about women finding new meaning in relationships and sticking together through tough times. Most of the film’s gags and slapstick humor cover up Walker’s emotional scars and weaknesses. But for all its hilarious splendor, there are hints of one woman’s efforts to get her life back together. And we can all identify with her.

6 Michelle Darnell – The Boss (2016)

First Look at Melissa McCarthy in The Boss

As one of the world’s top CEOs, Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) enters an event riding a huge golden phoenix and is accompanied by dancers and fireworks in The boss. It’s obvious she’s thinking she’s better than everyone else. Payback for his crappy attitude comes in the form of an insider trading scandal and a subsequent jail term. With some help from the Girl Scout Cookie Empire from her friends’ daughters, Ms. Darnell must continue on the path to his rebirth.

The film often seems to be aiming for a slightly more subversive atmosphere before it devolves into excessive animosity and four-letter curses start to fly. Demonstrating that occasionally being a little cruel is all it takes to get what you want in life.

5 Gabrielle Chanel — Coco Before Chanel (2009)

Chanel sits on the steps

A biography of one of the fashion industry’s most prolific creators, Coco Before Chanel recapitulate Gabrielle ChanelHis mother’s turbulent existence, from her dark early years to the point just before her career really took off. Before succeeding, Chanel’s life is long and full of challenges, but she eventually becomes famous because of her perseverance and strength. “There is no one like you”, as is implied when speaking to Chanel in the film. The film shows that using your individual strengths – which every woman possesses – will help you achieve your own goals, making them very relatable.

Related: 31 Most Inspiring Women in the MCU

4 Jules Ostin – The Intern (2015)

The-Intern-Anne-Hathaway-2015 (1)

the trainee Anne Hathaway stars as Jules Ostinthe spirited entrepreneur and creator of the Brooklyn-based e-commerce fashion company About Fit. She grows her company from her kitchen to a fully-fledged corporation with over 200 employees over the course of 18 months. When you pair her with a vintage Robert DeNiro, who is Ms. Ostin, a friendship that is full of useful career advice results. The movie presents her husband, Matt, as a stay-at-home dad who has given up his job to take care of his son, and if that doesn’t inspire him to bring the snacks, we don’t know what will.

3 Joy Mangano – Joy (2015)


See the origins of the million dollar home industry empire founded by Joy Mangano and based on real-life events in the film, Happiness. The legendary Jennifer Lawrence plays Mrs. Mangano, a single mother who survives by working as an airline reservations agent. After creating a self-wringing mop, Ms. Mangano navigates the treacherous commercial landscape where betrayals abound and allies become enemies. However, at the end of the day, the character this film focuses on is one that we truly adore.

two Miranda Priestly – The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
20th century fox

Despite not really being a businessman, one of the most formidable and recognizable leaders in recent cinema history can be found in The devil Wears Prada. Miranda Priestly, the editor-in-chief of the fictional fashion magazine Runway, is portrayed by a caustic Meryl Streep. When she’s not instilling dread in the hearts of all her employees, she’s managing fashion shows, finding designers, and establishing one of the most ruthless and successful businesses in movie history. Mrs. Priestly, who is best known for her sharp wit and sarcasm, never loses her place at the top, or her sense of style.

1 Virginia “Pepper” Potts – Iron Man 2 (2010)

Does Pepper Potts still have superpowers in Infinity War?

When you need reassurance that everything is working efficiently, smoothly and under control, who are you going to call? pepper pots (Gwyneth Paltrow) of Marvel Cinematic Universe fame. The presence of Mrs. Potts among superheroes always has a beneficial impact on the team, even though she is not an official member of the Avengers (still, she has her own armor and participated in the big fight in Avengers: Endgame). She is extremely intelligent, well-organized, and isn’t afraid to call someone out on her silliness.

Tony’s biggest job was to serve as the Avenger’s commander (which some will debate) and he realizes that Pepper was the ideal choice to lead Stark Industries into the future in Iron man 2, when he promotes her. Some will say she was given the job, but over the course of the MCU movies, Pepper has proven that she has the resources to excel in the male-dominated tech field. For all women, Pepper’s rise from Tony’s personal assistant to CEO is an inspiration.

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