How does one even start to find the best and the brightest women in an entire country?

Various publications develop their own criteria for pulling these lists together — Glamour magazine's Women of the Year tends to make it a mix of celebrities, politicians, fashion types and athletes, while Chatelaine picks from the younger crowd alongside the everyday hero.

For Women of Influence magazine, which focuses on advancing professional women, their second annual list meant looking at five sectors — Business, Health, Non-Government Organization, Professional Services and the Public Sector — and finding females who were leaders in those fields. Beyond that, the publication made a choice to focus on women who were well-established in their careers, seeking out those who'd had a number of important positions, recent promotions, managed a significant number of employees, and interestingly, had an increase in compensation in the past year.

The recent Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum saw Canada slip down to the 21st position, which the study attributed to a slight change in secondary education (high school) opportunities, as well as ministerial positions for women in the country.

However, in "economic participation and opportunity," which measures, among other items, wage equality, Canada came in 12th. A Globe and Mail article partially attributes any remaining difference in male vs. female wages to an unwillingness to ask for raises.

But for the women featured in Women of Influence's list, asking for what they want doesn't seem to be a problem — instead, it's a theme that pervades the story of each of these women's rise in their careers. Perhaps as they continue on and mentor younger employees, that will be the norm and not the exception.

SEE: Check out Women of Influence's list of the top 25 women in Canada for 2012. Have suggestions of your own as to who should be on there? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Kirstine Stewart

    <b>Who</b>: Kirstine Stewart <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: Executive Vice-President, English Services, CBC <b>Notable quote</b>: "I don't think, as women, that we actually look for recognition, so it's incredibly motivating and gratifying to know there's a group of people who believe that what you're doing makes a difference." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Sylvia Chrominska

    <b>Who</b>: Sylvia Chrominska <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: Group Head, Global Resources and Communications, Scotiabank <b>Notable quote</b>: On becoming the first female executive vice-president, "That move suddenly put me at the senior executive table, and with no other women in the bank who'd had that role, there was nowhere to go for advice." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Cathy Bennett

    <b>Who</b>: Cathy Bennett <b>City</b>: St. John's, Newfoundland <b>Profession</b>: CEO, Bennett Group of Companies <b>Notable quote</b>: "My inspiration comes from trying to set a place in Atlantic Canadian business history." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Pauline D'Amboise

    <b>Who</b>: Pauline D'Amboise <b>City</b>: Montreal, Quebec <b>Profession</b>: Secretary General and Vice-President of Cooperative Support, Desjardins Group <b>Notable quote</b>: "If you think you have the right idea, go for it — have the courage to suggest new ideas and bring solutions to solve problems." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Moya Greene

    <b>Who</b>: Moya Greene <b>City</b>: London, UK (originally from Newfoundland) <b>Profession</b>: CEO, Royal Mail Group <b>Notable quote</b>: "When you're young, you can miss lots of things, and if you have a guide, you wise up much more quickly." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Dr. Eve Tsai

    <b>Who</b>: Dr. Eve Tsai <b>City</b>: Ottawa, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: Neurosurgeon, The Ottawa Hospital; Associate Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute; Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa <b>Notable quote</b>: "What I'd to be able to do at the end of my career is say that we've got a way to repair brains that are injured, and spinal cords that are injured." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Dr. Fiona Costello

    <b>Who</b>: Dr. Fiona Costello <b>City</b>: Calgary, Alberta <b>Profession</b>: Associate Professor, Departments of Clinical Sciences and Surgery; Clinician Scientist, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary <b>Notable quote</b>: "Everything I do is with the hope that I can positively impact the lives of patients with vision loss in Canada." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Janet Davidson

    <b>Who</b>: Janet Davidson <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: Canadian Executive of The Global Healthcare Practice, KPMG LLP <b>Notable quote</b>: "The healthcare system really isn't a healthcare system, it's a sickness system ... How do we make sure people stay healthy so they don't actually have to use the system?" <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Camille Orridge

    <b>Who</b>: Camille Orridge <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: CEO, Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network <b>Notable quote</b>: While working as a "ward maid" in the 1960s, Orridge says, "I would see things and how they were organized and think 'I can do better than that.'" <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Christine Power

    <b>Who</b>: Christine Power <b>City</b>: Halifax, Nova Scotia <b>Profession</b>: President and CEO, Capital District Health Authority <b>Notable quote</b>: "We ask [police, schools and business community leaders] what's [their] role in health, how can we use [that role] to promote well-being in the community?" <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Rosemary McCarney

    <b>Who</b>: Rosemary McCarney <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: President and CEO, Plan Canada <b>Notable quote</b>: "I recruited a really strong team of people around me who've been at the heart of everything we've managed to get done." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Bonnie Schmidt

    <b>Who</b>: Bonnie Schmidt <b>City</b>: London, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: President and founder, Let's Talk Science <b>Notable quote</b>: "How do you prepare for the jobs of the future when we don't even know what those jobs are going to look like?" <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Beverley Wybrow

    <b>Who</b>: Beverley Wybrow <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: President and CEO, Canadian Women's Foundation <b>Notable quote</b>: "I love the variety of my work, but my greatest achievements are what the CWF team has managed to accomplish, together." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Ilana Landsberg-Lewis

    <b>Who</b>: Ilana Landsberg-Lewis <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: Executive Director, Stephen Lewis Foundation <b>Notable quote</b>: "Gender equality is the greatest work left to be achieved on this planet, and without it, nothing improves." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Andrea Carey

    <b>Who</b>: Andrea Carey <b>City</b>: Victoria, British Columbia <b>Profession</b>: Director of Operations and Community Engagement at the Pacific Institute For Sport Excellent <b>Notable quote</b>: "Physical literacy is the confidence and competence to take part in a variety of movement skills." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Anne M. Stewart

    <b>Who</b>: Anne M. Stewart <b>City</b>: Vancouver, British Columbia <b>Profession</b>: Partner, Blake Cassels & Graydon, LLP <b>Notable quote</b>: "I''ve been blessed. I had lots of opportunities growing up; I have a lovely career. I think it's important to give back to our communities." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Marlys Edwardh

    <b>Who</b>: Rosemary McCarney <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: Partner, Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, LLP <b>Notable quote</b>: "Many people think lawyers only serve the articulated needs of the clients ... but equally we are there to see the structural flaws, the failures of the system and work towards change." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Jane Allen

    <b>Who</b>: Jane Allen <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: Partner, Chief Diversity Officer, Global Renewable Energy Leader, Deloitte <b>Notable quote</b>: "Nine times out of 10, if you think the job is too big or too hard, it's not, and if you think you can't do it, you can." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Carol Hansell

    <b>Who</b>: Carol Hansell <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: Senior Partner, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, LLP <b>Notable quote</b>: Her stated goal is to ensure a 'high quality shareholders' vote,' which means that shareholders are properly informed, among other priorities. <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Shannon Bowen-Smed

    <b>Who</b>: Shannon Bowen-Smed <b>City</b>: Calgary, Alberta <b>Profession</b>: President and CEO, Bowen Workforce Solutions <b>Notable quote</b>: Bowen-Smed describes her role in the company as "opening doors to opportunity." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Carol Stephenson

    <b>Who</b>: Carol Stephenson <b>City</b>: London, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: Dean, Richard Ivey School of Business <b>Notable quote</b>: "When I decide to work on something, I really focus on it, get it done, and then move on to the next thing." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Cristina Amon

    <b>Who</b>: Cristina Amon <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: Dean, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, University of Toronto <b>Notable quote</b>: She attributes her successful engineering career in part to interests. "I think I was always interested and astounded by how things work." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Kellie Garrett

    <b>Who</b>: Kellie Garrett <b>City</b>: Regina, Saskatchewan <b>Profession</b>: Senior Vice-President, Strategy, Knowledge & Reputation, Farm Credit Canada <b>Notable quote</b>: "I'm extroverted and like to talk out loud about ideas when I think they are good, but if I'm the main person talking then it's worth nothing." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Karen Stintz

    <b>Who</b>: Karen Stintz <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: Chair, TTC; City Councillor, City of Toronto <b>Notable quote</b>: "My ultimate vision, at the end of 2014, is to look back on my role and ask myself, did I leave the TTC and the community a little bit better than how I found it?" <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>

  • Nancy Croitoru

    <b>Who</b>: Nancy Croitoru <b>City</b>: Toronto, Ontario <b>Profession</b>: President and CEO, Food and Consumer Products of Canada <b>Notable quote</b>: On helping consumers make better choices: "We heard loud and clear from consumers that what they trust the most is the information on packages, but they didn't know how to use it." <b><a href="http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/women-of-influence/woi-magazine-winter-2012/2012110701#26">Read the rest of her profile in the online version of Women of Influence's Winter issue.</a></b>