Once upon a time, if you thought of the definition of a business leader, you would immediately have thought of a man. Why? Because men were business leaders and women were not. It’s that simple. Women were the homemakers, the ones who raised the children, who cooked and cleaned, who kept things nice and neat and comfortable for their spouses and partners.

But things began to change when a handful of women decided that their place was no longer in the kitchen but in the boardroom. And since then, the world has become a much more interesting place.

Who are these female entrepreneurs who changed the world? There are many – but here are a few examples.

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel
Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was the woman behind the phenomenally successful and world-renowned fashion company Chanel. Chanel changed the entire fashion industry in the early 20th century, revolutionising the way women could shop for clothes, and creating ‘off the peg’ clothing that was accessible to all. Along with clothing she designed and sold perfume and cosmetics because she understood that once a brand becomes a household name, it is trusted, and anything with the company’s branding will sell well.

Chanel began as a cabaret singer, and it was skill and determination that took her beyond this and into business.

Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg has done many things in her life, and is currently the COO of Facebook. Not only that, but she also serves on the board of the Walt Disney Company, Women for Women International, Center for Global Development, and V-Day. She is well respected because she understands how a business works, and ensures that the businesses she runs always cater to the public – the consumers.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is much more than an American television host, although that might be where you have heard of her from. She is, in fact, a highly successful business woman in her own right, as well as being a producer, actress, and philanthropist. Her famous television show is the most successful talk show in history, and Oprah herself was noted as the richest black woman in the 20th century. This was ground breaking – not only is Oprah a woman, but she is also black, and so she had to deal with being in two ‘minorities’ in business. But she succeeded in an incredible way, and she paved the way for other black women – and women in general – to become entrepreneurs.

Ariana Huffington
Ariana Huffington is seen as a major role model for women and girls across the world. She is an American Greek business owner and entrepreneur, and the co-founder of the Huffington Post. She has managed to become extremely successful in the media and tech industries, which have traditionally been seen as male dominated. Her drive, enthusiasm, and determination have taken her to the top.