In business, pop culture women make headlines in 2013: Marissa Mayer, Mary Barra, Miley Cyrus

This may be the Year of the Snake in the Chinese zodiac, but an argument could be made that 2013 is the year of the woman.

Throughout the year, women have been making major headlines. Fortune 500 companies are even taking notice, hiring women to lead.

In February, the National Association of Women Business Owners released a survey saying more women would become business owners in 2013 than ever before.

In March 2013, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sanberg’s book created a frenzy with the release of Lean In. When her book hit shelves, the praise and criticism poured in.

The book takes a look at women in the workplace and the barriers that exist for the female sex. It focuses on Sanberg’s personal experiences moving up in male-dominated industries while encouraging women to lean toward their ambitions.

Sanberg looked at societal barriers for women to achieve a position of power but also the barriers women create for themselves by internalizing gender roles. That could be why Lean In isn’t just a book, but has become a movement that continues to live on in communities which focus on collaboration and support for women to achieve their professional and personal goals.

About a year on the job, Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer was highly talked about this year. Mayer made personnel changes at the online company, eliminating its telecommuting policy and making changes to maternity leave guidelines. After giving birth to her son, she only took two weeks off, which led to it’s own controversy.

It was in August when Mayer was making even more headlines. She appeared in Vogue magazine, in what some describe as a “flirty” photo spread. Dressed in Michael Kors, stiletto heels and lying on a hammock, some saw it as a step backward for women.

And just this month, General Motors tapped Mary Barra as its new CEO. She is the automaker’s first-ever female chief operating officer. Barra is also the first female CEO of a global automaker, ever.

As if these ladies weren’t enough to define 2013 as the year of the woman, seven of the top 10 most-searched people on Google in the United States this year are women.

Female musicians such as Miley Cyrus, Beyonce and Rihanna dominate the list, with Kim Kardashian also making an appearance.

And with the popularity of shows such as “Orange Is The New Black,” Hollywood also was taken by the power of women. There are more female-led films in the top of the year-end box office report than ever before.

Nine movies with strong leading female characters grossed over $100 million in the U.S. this year. The big hitters include: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Oz the Great and Powerful and Frozen.

It wasn’t just women in music and on the big screen that had people talking, though. One young woman stole headlines for her perseverance and survival.

Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head in October 2012 in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen. She survived and shared her story and dream with the world. The Pakistani young woman wants women to have the same rights to education that men in her country have.

In 2009, she blogged for the BBC under a pseudonym. Yousafzai talked about her life under Taliban rule but also her desire and dream of equal education opportunities for women.

With just a few days left of 2013, it seems pretty clear that women across the country and throughout the world didn’t slither around unnoticed -- they were leaning in, taking the lead and demanding attention.

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