Where the Women Fortune 500 CEOs Went to School

Menachem Wecker

At some universities, women outnumber men in graduate programs, and The New York Times reported in December 2011 that more young women are leaving their jobs to go back to school. The 18 women who made the 2012 Fortune 500 CEO list may now have some of the most secure jobs in the workforce, but three of the CEOs chose not only to go to graduate school earlier in their careers, but also to earn multiple advanced degrees.

Irene B. Rosenfeld, of Kraft Foods (No. 50 on Fortune's list), earned doctoral, M.S., and B.A. degrees from Cornell University; Sherilyn McCoy, of Avon Products (No. 234), holds an MBA from the Business School at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey--New Brunswick and Newark; a graduate degree from the Princeton University School of Engineering and Applied Science; and a B.S. from the University of Massachusetts--Dartmouth; and Indra K. Nooyi, of PepsiCo (No. 41), holds a graduate degree from Yale University and an MBA and a B.S. from universities in India.

The 18 women CEOs represent 3.6 percent of the 498 chief executive officers on the Fortune list. (Two members of the Fortune 500 list are CEOs of two different Fortune 500 companies, which is why there are 498 CEOs.) The 18 women on the list collectively earned 13 graduate degrees and 18 college degrees, thus posting a 100 percent college graduate rate, compared to 92.4 percent overall for the Fortune 500 CEOs who went to college.

[See where the Fortune 500 CEOs went to school.]

As an alumna of Wellesley College (B.A., 1973), Garcia C. Martore, the CEO of Gannett (No. 465 on the Fortune list), is the only woman on the CEO list to hold a degree from a women's college. Many of the women chief executive officers' alma maters ranked within the top 10 for their ranking category as used in U.S. News's college rankings. None of the women CEOs graduated from schools that were Unranked or Rank Not Published in U.S. News's graduate school or college rankings.

Angela F. Braly, of WellPoint (No. 45), is the only female chief executive officer on Fortune's list who went to law school. Braly earned a J.D. from Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law.

[See which law schools produced Fortune 500 CEOs.]

The Fortune 500 companies with female CEOs rank from No. 10 (Hewlett-Packard) to No. 465 (Gannett), with six of the 18 CEOs working at Fortune 50 companies.

Below is the list of colleges and graduate schools that count the women of the Fortune 500 CEO list among their alumni:

CEO Company (Fortune 500 rank) School (name) (U.S. News rank) Degree (year, if known)
Braly, Angela F. WellPoint (45) Southern Methodist University (Dedman) (51, Best Law Schools) J.D. (1985)
" " Texas Tech University (160, National Universities) B.B.A. (1983)
Bresch, Heather Mylan (396) West Virginia University (164, National Universities) B.A. (1991)
Burns, Ursula M. Xerox (127) Columbia University (Fu Foundation) (15, Best Engineering Schools) M.S. (1981)
" " Polytechnic Institute of New York University (138, National Universities) B.S. (1980)
Gordon, Ilene S. Corn Products International (390) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) (4, Best Business Schools) M.S. (1976)
" " Massachusetts Institute of Technology (5, National Universities) BS (1975)
Kullman, Ellen J. DuPont (72) Northwestern University (Kellogg) (4, Best Business Schools) MBA
" " Tufts University (29, National Universities) B.S. (1978)
Martore, Gracia C. Gannett (465) Wellesley College (6, National Liberal Arts Colleges) B.A. (1973)
McCoy, Sherilyn Avon Products (234) Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey--New Brunswick and Newark (63, Best Business Schools) MBA (1988)
" " Princeton University (21, Best Engineering Schools) M.Chem.E. (1982)
" " University of Massachusetts--Dartmouth (82, Regional Universities, North) B.S. (1980)
Meyrowitz, Carol M. TJX (125) Rider University (21, Regional Universities, North) College degree
Mooney, Beth E. KeyCorp (499) Southern Methodist University (Cox) (54, Best Business Schools) MBA (1983)
" " University of Texas--Austin (45, National Universities) B.A. (1977)
Morrison, Denise M. Campbell Soup (334) Boston College (31, National Universities) B.S.
Mulligan, Deanna M. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America (250) Stanford University (1, Best Business Schools) MBA (1989)
" " University of Nebraska--Lincoln (101, National Universities) B.S. (1985)
Nooyi, Indra K. PepsiCo (41) Yale University (3, National Universities) M.A. (1980)
" " Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (N/A) MBA (1978)
" " Madras Christian College, India (N/A) B.S. (1976)
Reed, Debra L. Sempra Energy (266) University of Southern California (23, National Universities) College degree
Rometty, Virginia M. International Business Machines (19) Northwestern University (12, National Universities) B.S. (1979)
Rosenfeld, Irene B. Kraft Foods (50) Cornell University (15, National Universities) Ph.D. (1980)
" " Cornell University (Johnson) (16, Best Business Schools) M.S. (1977)
" " Cornell University (15, National Universities) B.A. (1975)
Whitman, Margaret C. Hewlett-Packard (10) Harvard University (1, Best Business Schools) MBA (1979)
" " Princeton University (1, National Universities) B.A. (1977)
Wilderotter, Mary Agnes Frontier Communications (464) College of the Holy Cross (29, National Liberal Arts Colleges) B.A. (1977)
Woertz, Patricia A. Archer Daniels Midland (28) Pennsylvania State University--University Park (45, National Universities) B.S. (1974)

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