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Marissa Mayer

While still in college, Marissa Mayer made it onto a list of "campus icons" in the Stanford Daily student newspaper. As she recalls about the article: "There was literally a line that said 'the blond woman in the upper-division computer-science classes.' And I was, like, 'I'm a woman in the upper-division computer-science classes -- I should know this person!' I really had just been very blind to gender. And I still am." Mayer, 38, was employee No. 20 at Google and that firm's first female engineer. She "rose to senior manager while earning a reputation as a tough boss in a male-dominated field -- and as a self-proclaimed fan of quirky humor, designer cupcakes and couture," the San Jose Mercury News wrote. So, when Mayer made the move to Yahoo in 2012, the immediate mission was to turn around the struggling Web giant. She's faced Yahoo's legacy problems head-on, says CNET: "bloat, culture, structure, and all the other things that have made the entrance to Yahoo's CEO office a revolving door." But a year and a half down the road, her No. 2 executive has abruptly exited and advertising still isn't growing. Yahoo needs to "reinvent" itself, Mayer insists. It must build new products that "delight and inspire," attracting more users, which in turn will draw more advertisers and revenue. "The future for us," she says, "is that virtuous cycle." Michel Euler / Associated Press
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