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Carly Fiorina: Fortune's most powerful woman

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Hewlett-Packard's Carly Fiorina has topped Fortune magazine's "50 Most Powerful Women" poll for the third year running. The "silver medal" went to Debby Hopkins of Lucent Technologies and eBay's Meg Whitman came in third. By contrast, the probably better known Oprah Winfrey came in at number 15.

New entrants include: Donna Dubinsky, the driving force behind the handheld computing revolution at Palm, now working at Handspring; and Ellen Hancock, who was shoved out of Apple by Steve Jobs and worked at IBM prior to that, and who is now chairman and CEO of Web host Exodus. Their positions at number four and number five respectively make it an all technology top five.

The ranking is determined by the size and importance of the business in the global economy, the candidate's clout inside her company, and the arc of her career, ie. where she's been, where she's likely to go. The panel compiling the list also consider her influence on mass culture and society.

The preponderance of technology companies in the list should be something of a boost to women working in the sector, typically regarded as the sole preserve of the "white male" (a term used so often it begins to sound like a subspecies). ®

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