The leading females listed are all in the thick of corporate life, providing hope and inspiration where a struggle is often still required.
Note: Numbers in brackets indicate position in 2002 list.
1 (1) MARJORIE SCARDINO
A troublesome FT - it lost £32m in 2003 - and merely steady group results have meant a bruising couple of years for the veteran Pearson boss. But as the only female chief executive of a FTSE 100 company, Scardino, 57, remains easily the biggest lioness on the British corporate scene.
2 (3) PATRICIA HEWITT
Head of the DTI and Minister for Women and Equality, Blairite Hewitt, 55, is the Government's leading spokesman on business. An MP since 1997, she has pioneered work/life balance legislation since coming into office. Her policies have drawn criticism from some quarters and she may now feel it's time to move on.
3 (NEW) RACHEL LOMAX
The hawkish deputy governor of the Bank of England attained permanent secretary status in the civil service and was deputy chief economic adviser during Black Wednesday. The 58-year-old voted against the entire Monetary Policy Committee in her first MPC meeting, a feat few could hope to emulate.
4 (6) CLARA FURSE
The London Stock Exchange's first female chair, and Dutch to boot, Furse has weathered a lost merger battle with LIFFE, a City smear campaign and the departure of deputy Martin Wheatley. But Furse, 46, runs a tight ship - during the worst market conditions for decades, operating profits rose £24m to £82m.
5 (4) VAL GOODING
Gooding's career at Bupa could not be healthier. The 54-year-old chief executive spent 20 years at British Airways before taking on the top job at the private health insurer, where she is respected as a quietly effective yet tough leader, intent on broadening Bupa's appeal in an increasingly cut-throat market.
6 (17) BARONESS HOGG
Not content with chairing one profitable FTSE 100 company - 3i - Baroness Hogg, 58, was recently appointed deputy chairman of GKN, making her the first female to hold two such senior FTSE 100 roles. She was a BBC governor until recently, where she strongly influenced the fates of Greg Dyke and Gavin Davies.
=7 (7) KATE BARKER
Just reappointed by Chancellor Brown for another three years as a member of the Monetary Policy Committee, confirmed dove Barker, 46, is also in deputy PM John Prescott's good books. Her report for him into government housing strategy may spark the biggest home-building programme for 25 years.
=7 (13) MARIAN BELL
Before joining the MPC in 2002, Bell, 46, ran her own economics consultancy, Alpha Economics, and was previously head of research, treasury and capital markets, with Royal Bank of Scotland. She joins Barker as one of just nine members of the Bank of England's MPC.
8 (2) CHERIE BOOTH
As a leading silk, women's rights campaigner and patron of several charities, Booth is highly successful. Yet it's her role as the PM's wife that makes her really influential. As Blair's public rating suffers, so does Booth's standing in the power list. The Carole Caplin/Peter Foster fiasco didn't help either.
9 (38) ROSE MARIE BRAVO
Strong results for luxury brand Burberry this year, thanks to CEO Bravo, 53, who has succeeded in revitalising the company's staid image and steered it through a successful partial flotation. The New Yorker joined the company in 1997 from Saks Inc, where she was president for five years.
10 (21) KAREN JONES
The meteoric rise of Britain's biggest landlady - founder of Cafe Rouge and now CEO of 2,470-strong pub chain Spirit Taverns - looks set to continue. Having acquired Scottish & Newcastle's old boozers for £2.5bn last year, she's now rumoured to be gearing up for flotation in 2005.
11 (22) JANA BENNETT
The BBC's first female director of TV has been attacked by Ofcom for broadcasting too many makeover shows. In response, 'Two Brains' Bennett has promised a renewed focus on arts and current affairs. She made her name with The Human Body, which broadcast the first televised death.
12 (29) HELEN WEIR
The former finance director of retail giant Kingfisher swapped horses in April to became FD of Lloyds TSB, despite insider grumbles that she lacks sector experience. The 41-year-old will need all her high street nous to get the bank's finances back on track - last year's £4.35bn profit wasn't enough to banish City doubts.
13 (NEW) PAT O'DRISCOLL
New entrant O'Driscoll, 45, joined Northern Foods as chief executive in April from Shell Europe, where she had been retail vice-president. She has made her mark, axing the old business model and restructuring the ready meals group into three businesses. Northern Foods is a big supplier to Morrison's and M&S.
14 (12) HELEN ALEXANDER
Alexander, 47, has been chief of the Economist Group since 1997, having worked her way up from marketing manager. She has steered the company out of the advertising doldrums and lifted pre-tax profits for the past two years by means of a restructuring and disposals.
15 (46) SLY BAILEY
Bailey, 42, jumps 31 places this year - a reflection of her new role as chief of Trinity Mirror. The former CEO of IPC joined the newspaper group in February 2003. Since then, she has seen off Piers Morgan, sold off Trinity Mirror's Irish newspapers and delivered the group's best year-on-year profit improvement since 1999.
16 (33) AMELIA FAWCETT
Boston-born Fawcett has been promoted to the role of vice-chairman at Morgan Stanley since she appeared in our 2002 list. The 48-year-old also sits on the Bank of England's Court of Directors, and chairs the London International Festival of Theatre.
17 (28) REBEKAH WADE
Eighteen months into her stint as editor of best-selling daily newspaper the Sun, Sorbonne-educated Wade looks to have the red-top market to herself, thanks to the recent trouble at arch-rival the Daily Mirror. With an election in the offing, the 36-year-old's influence can only grow.
18 (8) BELINDA EARL
Jaeger is looking to its newly appointed CEO to transform the stuffy brand into something far more hip - a la Burberry. Earl, 42, was previously chief of Debenhams, where she oversaw the group's expansion before its takeover by Baroness Retail. She left in December, trousering £3.6m.
19 (NEW) VIVIENNE COX
Responsible for BP's trading and supply activities, Cox, 45, has been at the oil company since 1981. She recently became an executive vice-president, making her BP's most senior woman. Her one foray outside BP was unsuccessful - she sat briefly on the Eurotunnel board before the entire board was ousted earlier this year.
20 (5) DIANNE THOMPSON
Chief executive of Camelot since 1994, former poly lecturer Thompson, 53, has successfully fended off rival bids to remain at the helm of the National Lottery since its inception. Revenues are up on 2003, thanks to new games, better advertising and the international Euromillions draw. She may stand down in 2005.
21 (NEW) KATE SWANN
New entrant Swann, 39, was drafted into WH Smith last November to turn round the high street retailer's ailing fortunes. Formerly MD of Argos, Swann faced her first major challenge earlier this year when Permira, the private equity firm, bid for the company.
22 (NEW) MARGARET EWING
The group finance director of the British Airports Authority has overseen rising revenue and profits in the two years since she's been at the company, even though the travel industry has suffered under Sars and the breakout of war in Iraq. Ewing, 49, was previously FD at Trinity Mirror.
23 (NEW) HELENA MORRISSEY
One of the brightest female stars in the financial firmament, Morrissey, 37 and a Cambridge philosophy graduate, is chief executive of Newton Investment Management, a rare bastion of City equality (almost) where 36% of its fund managers are women. Under her guidance, Newton has performed strongly.
24 (14) KATHERINE GARRETT-COX
After leaving Aberdeen Asset Management last November, 'Katherine the Great', 36, is in pole position to inherit the City Superwoman crown as worn by Carol Galley and Nicola Horlick. As chief investment officer of Morley Asset Management, she's joined the fund management premier league, controlling funds worth £111bn.
25 (NEW) SARA WELLER
The woman who brought us Jamie Oliver as the face of Sainsbury's has left the supermarket, perhaps disappointed at losing out to Justin King as the new CEO. The apparently unflappable Weller has since taken up the cudgels as MD of Argos, one of GUS's jewels (alongside Burberry), where she replaces Kate Swann.
26 (NEW) ANNE GUNTHER
Chief executive of Standard Life Bank since 2002, Gunther's goal is to make six-year-old SLB turn its first profit this year, and to take it into the mortgage lender's top 10 by 2009. The 49-year-old previously set up Lloyds TSB's successful online banking arm.
27 (27) CAMILLA RHODES
Rhodes, 46, has been MD of News Group Newspapers, publisher of the Sun and News of the World, since 2001. She was previously MD at Times Newspapers, which she job swapped with her husband, Clive Milner. She has held senior positions across all News International titles.
28 (NEW) ROSE FOSTER
Credited with a big hand in the success of privately held fashion retailer Monsoon since joining as MD in 2001, Foster, 43, caused uproar last year by first accepting then rejecting the top job at Littlewoods. She is now Monsoon's chief executive, where profits rose nearly 22% to £38.2m in 2003.
29 (31) RONA FAIRHEAD
Former ICI VP and Bain consultant, Fairhead, 42, now sits opposite Marjorie Scardino as the other half of the all-female Pearson top team. FD since 2002, Fairhead has managed to cut costs, keep group profits stable and deliver a rising dividend, despite the savage advertising recession.
30 (44) DAWN AIREY
Having presided over Channel 5's early days, Airey, 43, is now MD at Sky Networks, and a non-exec director at easyJet. 'Scary Airey', as she's apparently known, was in the frame for the BBC DG's job and is now a favourite to be the new CEO of Channel 4.
31 (NEW) SUZANNE DONOHOE
As co-head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Europe), Donohoe holds an important City role. She believes that more women are entering fund management because of its relatively predictable hours. The American has been with GS since 1992.
32 (NEW) LUCY NEVILLE-ROLFE
The group corporate affairs director of Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket chain, reports directly to CEO Terry Leahy. A former civil servant, Neville-Rolfe, 51, spent two years in John Major's Policy Unit. The deputy chairman of the British Retail Consortium was also appointed Tesco company secretary earlier this year.
33 (47) KIM WINSER
The former M&S director has turned around Scottish knitwear brand Pringle, and has managed to maintain its success as a luxury fashion brand. Sales have risen every year since she took over as CEO, and more Pringle flagship stores are planned to open internationally.
34 (NEW) ANNE RICHARDS
As the new chief investment officer of Aberdeen Asset Management, 39-year-old Richards steps into Katherine Garrett-Cox's shoes. She is untainted by the allegations directed at AAM of mis-selling split-capital investment trusts, having arrived fresh from Edinburgh Fund Managers, which AAM bought last year.
35 (16) BARBARA CASSANI
What has happened to Go-getting Barbara Cassani? The enthusiastic American seemed set to take on the world after selling Go! to rival easyJet, but instead she stepped aside from business to head London's 2012 Olympics bid, a post she has since relinquished. Will she bounce back in time for the 2006 list?
36 (NEW) BARBARA STOCKING
Formerly director of health policy think tank the King's Fund and NHS Executive South East regional director, Stocking became the first female director of £190m-a-year mega-charity Oxfam in 2001. The 52-year-old's outspoken stance against the Iraq war won plaudits from staff and supporters alike.
37 (NEW) LINDA BENNETT
Most famous for repopularising the kitten heel, Bennett is as much a business maestro as a fashion creative. The 39-year-old recently won the coveted Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year award, and her £40m LK Bennett clothes and accessories business is doing nicely.
38 (30) FIONA REYNOLDS
The director-general of the National Trust must deflect criticism from NT members and the public at large about the Trust's role and attitude if she's to steer it safely through modernisation. The 46-year-old was previously director of the Council for the Protection of Rural England.
39 (NEW) MARIE MELNYK
As joint managing director of Northern supermarket chain William Morrison, Melnyk has kept a surprisingly low profile. Now that Morrison's has acquired Safeway, perhaps we'll see more of the supermarket lifer, who's been with the company since 1975.
40 (NEW) VICTORIA BARNSLEY
The CEO of HarperCollins, one of the UK's biggest book publishers, used an £80,000 loan from a friend to launch Fourth Estate in 1983. HarperCollins later bought the company for about £13m. A Tate trustee, the energetic Barnsley recently secured Greg Dyke's memoirs for a rumoured £500,000.
41 (26) ALISON REED
Marks & Spencer's finance director has so far held on to her seat through the rocky ride of the past few weeks. It remains to be seen whether current CEO Stuart Rose will want to keep on Sir Richard Greenbury's former PA in such a key role.
42 (42) CAROLYN McCALL
The CEO of Guardian Newspapers Ltd is presiding over difficult times as sales continue to fall. At 362,638, the Guardian's net circulation is less than stellar, although McCall can console herself with the fact that many of her rivals are also suffering. Would a move to a tabloid size revive the Guardian's fortunes?
43 (NEW) JANE LIGHTING
A former employee of John Cleese, Lighting later founded Minotaur, a programme sales company. Flextech bought it and eventually made Lighting CEO. She now heads Channel Five, where viewing share edged up to 6.5% in 2003. Can the 47-year-old ensure the channel is not swallowed up by a bigger player?
44 (NEW) COLINE McCONVILLE
Australian-born McConville, 39, joined Clear Channel International in 1998, becoming CEO for Europe in 2002. The former McKinseyite is responsible for the profits of all CCI outdoor and radio advertising operations. She is also a non-executive director of HBOS.
45 (19) GAIL REBUCK
The woman who joined a secretarial course straight after university went on to become the UK chairman and CEO of book publisher Random House, a post she's held for the past 13 years. Well-connected in both the media and politics, Rebuck, 52, is also a non-executive director of BSkyB.
46 (NEW) SYLVIA AUTON
Replacing Sly Bailey as CEO of IPC, Auton has been at the magazine publisher since 1977. Auton, 55, needs to conjure up some big launches if she's to compete with titles such as Emap's Heat or Conde Nast's Glamour. Her hopes are currently pinned on IPC's new weekly lad's mag Nuts.
47 (NEW) ANNETTE COURT
The new CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland's £3.3 billion insurance business certainly has the right credentials for the job. Court was previously CEO of Direct Line, where she oversaw its purchase of rival Churchill. Before that, Court, 42, was an insurance-sector client manager for IBM.
48 (32) PERWEEN WARSI
The UK's curry queen is the founder of S&A Foods, producer of Indian meals for Asda, Safeway and Tesco. News that lasagne has replaced chicken tikka massala as the UK's favourite dish won't deter Warsi, 47, as S&A also makes Mexican, Thai and Chinese dishes. An Italian range next?
49 (NEW) JANET GAYMER
Senior partner at Simmons & Simmons and one of Europe's top employment lawyers, the 56-year-old's clients range from the MOD to the Royal Shakespeare Company. The former serial student - she studied history and medicine before taking her articles - is also chair of the DTI's Employment Tribunal Systems taskforce.
50 (NEW) RUTH ANDERSON
The London tax partner and board member of KPMG, Anderson is the only female on a Big Four accountancy firm board. She's vocal about recruiting more women to senior positions: 'It is no fun being at a (predominantly male) dinner where leadership is being discussed and Sir Alex Ferguson is the first choice everyone gives.'
ONES TO WATCH
She already has NM Rothschild & Sons and Merrill Lynch on her CV, and the 30-year-old also found time to set up Life Capital Ltd, which she later sold to Durlacher investment bank. Appleyard is now director of Durlacher Ventures, and founder and chairman of the Life Neurological Research Trust.
As the group director in charge of retail distribution at Legal & General, Avery, 44, is one of the scarce breed of FTSE 100 female executive directors. She joined Barclays Bank straight from school, eventually becoming MD of Barclays Stockbrokers before joining Legal & General.
The woman rated in Draper's Record as the second most influential person in fashion has just accepted the role as head of M&S womenswear. Ructions at M&S may put paid to that move, but Bostock will flourish wherever she goes. Her track record at Next and Asda's George clothing line will see to that.
She's only 37, but Liz Cacciottolo is already managing director and head of UBS's UK wealth management business, and is tipped as a rising star by City insiders. Australian Cacciottolo helped to set up the UBS wealth management arm, which has £10bn under management.
Having helped to set up Richard Branson's Virgin Direct in 1994, Gadhia now heads The One Account - a multi-award winning current account mortgage provider created by Royal Bank of Scotland and Virgin Direct and now wholly owned by RBS. The One Account manages mortgages worth nearly £7.2bn.
As managing director of Schlumberger Oilfield Services in the UK, Goligher has excelled in an industry where few women are at the top. The 39-year-old is responsible for Schlumberger's 1,600 UK staff, overseeing safety and client relations with customers such as BP, Shell and other oil companies.
Pease set up a European broking business for Smith New Court when she was just 23 and has gone from there via Merrill Lynch to become chief executive of fund manager JO Hambro Capital Management. She cemented her financial credibility by marrying Crispin Odey, founder and CEO of his own fund management firm.
As BT's chief broadband officer, Ritchie, 43, manages an increasingly important strand of BT's business. She is the company's most senior female executive and has worked there for 22 years. She faces a tough target - BT wants five million broadband subscribers and national coverage by the end of 2005.