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May 09, 2012 at 05:04pm IST

Indra Nooyi among Fortune 500's 18 female powerbrokers

New York: The India-born chief executive of Pepsico Indra Nooyi is one of the 18 women who are at present at the helm of America's biggest 500 corporations, according US business magazine Fortune.

Nooyi is ranked fourth by Fortune in the list of Fortune 500's "female powerbrokers".

"Nooyi has overseen a shift in focus from soft drinks into less profitable, albeit healthier, snack foods market in recent years," Fortune said. Pepiso is 41st biggest corporation in the US.

Nooyi among Fortune 500's 18 female powerbrokers

This year's Fortune 500 list includes the greatest number of female CEOs in history.

The list was topped by Meg Whitman, head of information technology company, Hewlett-Packard, which came 10th on this year's overall list.

Virginia Rometty, president and CEO of IBM, was ranked second on the list. Rometty is the first women to lead the technology giant, America's 19th largest company, according to Fortune.

Other executives who have "shattered the glass ceiling" include Patricia Woertz of agricultural processors Archer Daniels Midland, Irene Rosenfeld who heads up Kraft Foods; Ursula Burns who is CEO at Xerox and Sherilyn McCoy at Avon.

Xerox chief Ursula Burns is the first African-American woman to head a Fortune 500 company.

There are 18 women who hold CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies, while there are an additional 21 female CEOs in the Fortune 501-1000, some managing steel, oil and energy companies.

This year's Fortune 500 list includes the greatest number of female CEOs in history, Fortune said adding women currently hold 3.6 per cent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 3.9 per cent of Fortune 1,000 CEO positions.

Campaigners, however, believe more women are still needed on boards.

Catalyst, a nonprofit research organization advocating for more women in business, found that in Canada women hold 14.5 per cent of board seats, a figure that rose by only half a per cent between 2009 and 2011.

In America, women hold 16.1 per cent of board seats, an increase of less than half a per cent from 2010.

About 10 per cent of the top 500 US companies, and almost 40 per cent of Canada's 500 largest companies have no women on their boards, according to Catalyst.