From Marie Curie and Abigail Adams to Donna Karan and Hillary Clinton, mothers have a long history of being innovators, trendsetters and political forces. With Mother’s Day approaching, Working Mother honors the Most Powerful Moms of 2012. How did we choose this list? This is a powerhouse group of women in a range of fields—from social media to technology to show biz. The pop icon new mom, the author who’s shattering book sales records, the social media maven—these are just a few of the moms making a major impact right now. All the power women on our list have at least one child 18 or younger, and are all based in the U.S. The list is not ranked, each of these women is making an impact in a unique way.
Actress Melissa McCarthy is fresh off an Oscar nomination and an Emmy win. And now she has a TV pilot in development and will star in a new Judd Apatow film due out by year’s end. 2012 is McCarthy’s year.
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, is charging the company through its IPO, set to happen in the coming weeks, which will raise more than $10 billion dollars and will make Sandberg a billionaire in her own right. She’s not the only social media guru to make our list—one of her competitors at Twitter, Katie Jacobs Stanton, is also making waves, changing the way that news is circulated globally. As head of international development, Stanton has helped steer the social media powerhouse to several milestones, including when Japanese users set a record of 25,088 tweets per second during a television broadcast of the film Castle in the Sky late last year. She’s also overseen getting world leaders on Twitter, including Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev.
Then there’s Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games trilogy. The books have been at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for more than 130 consecutive weeks, and with the recently released The Hunger Games movie, Collins’s influence in pop culture has never been more palpable.
Something many of the powerful moms on this list share is an outspoken need for work life flexibility. Angelina Jolie, who, beyond starring in hit movies, has set the standard for celebrity giving, often talks about the advantages of only having to work part of the year. Facebook’s Sandberg spurred online shockwaves recently when she said there’s no such thing as work life balance, even as she makes sure to leave work each day at 5:30 p.m. to be with her family for dinner. It may not be balance, but she, along with most working moms, still strive to achieve a semblance of work and family equilibrium.