Power: The 100 Women Who Run This Town

Twenty years ago — perhaps even ten — it would have been impossible to publish a story about the 100 most powerful women in Boston. The most underpaid women, maybe. Or the most underappreciated women, who poured coffee and shopped for their bosses’ wives on Valentine’s Day.

Today, women have stepped into those pivotal high-powered positions themselves. They’re taking home the big paychecks, commanding our military, even winning boxing matches (granted, against other women, but still). And of all the cities in the nation, ours has shown the most revolutionary progress. Three years ago, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (affiliated with George Washington University) looked into how women fare in such issues as employment, earnings, and political participation, and ranked the top eight states. Massachusetts didn’t make the list. Last year, in a study using the exact same criteria, Massachusetts ranked number one in the nation, tied with Vermont and Minnesota. (Mississippi ranked last, in case you were thinking of moving there.)

Women here now hold almost half of all appointed executive positions. Women here are also far more likely to earn as much as men who hold equivalent positions. And women here are much more likely to earn graduate degrees.

With this in mind, and for the first time ever, we’ve compiled a list of the most influential women in Boston, the women who have emerged as leaders in every field. To compile the list, we reached out to dozens of this city’s movers and shakers and posed the question: Who are the women who get things done? Then we ranked these women, judging power by how many Bostonians are directly affected by their contributions. In other words, we did the homework and then went with our gut. Some of the names will sound familiar: You’ve been seeing them for years, in this magazine and elsewhere. But keep reading — we have some surprises in store, too.

Gloria Larson
53, Chair, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority; Cochair, Government Practices Group, Foley, Hoag & Eliot
Larson’s southern charm belies her tenacity. Her stubborn push for the still-under-construction convention center — linchpin of the Seaport District — ties her closely with the mayor; her GOP pedigree (Mitt Romney reportedly asked her to be his running mate) allies her with the governor, who named her to his transition team. How much bipartisan clout does Larson have? This former state secretary of economic affairs is one of the few Republicans on the planning committee for next year’s Democratic National Convention. She managed to dump well-connected longtime Hynes Convention Center chief Francis X. Joyce. She struck a deal for a planned convention center hotel without a major public subsidy. And she’s kept the convention center itself largely on budget. Cochair of the government practices group at the law firm Foley, Hoag & Eliot and a member of any number of boards of directors, Larson is not mentioned merely as a candidate for lieutenant governor anymore. Now it’s for governor.