Minister Of Defense
"It's a great victory" that no one at her macho Ministry even talks about her gender, she told Le Figaro last month; competence alone counts, and, by defending her budget, she's won the respect of her ground troops. If Sarkozy wins next May, she has the clout in the party to assure her a top post in his government.
Nicole El Karoui
Few postgraduate degrees have the cachet of one earned under her aegis at the Ecole Polytechnique or the Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie (Paris VI). Banks snap up her students, who have mastered the probability equations that hedge funds need to model portfolios.
CEO, Areva Group
A former Mitterrand acolyte, she negotiated the 2001 merger of state-owned firms to create the world's biggest builder of nuclear power plants. Reappointed this summer for five more years, she vows to make nukes a clean, safe choice for the post-oil future.
Head Of La Comedie-Francaise
Last month she became administrator general of the prestigious state theater, a male redoubt since its founding in 1680. She told Le Monde she intends to make it "a symbolic fiefdom for the defense of French culture."
President Of Medef
The CEO of the marketing firm IFOP has brought an unpatriarchal touch to France's main confederation of employers since her election in 2005. Her criticism of the government's youth employment law last spring turned out to be uncannily accurate.