The winner of the Puzzle of Fortune is Diana G. of Massachusetts. Congratulations!
Many thanks to all those who participated!
To solve, one identifies the symbols down the left side as stock ticker symbols for various Fortune 500 companies. Next, one notes the CEO of the corresponding company as of the summer of 2011 and writes their first and last names next to their company ticker symbol. Reading down the marked squares produces the name URSULA BURNS, the CEO of Xerox. The final answer is the stock ticker symbol for Xerox: XRX.
When the puzzle was constructed, exactly 12 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were women, and by a stroke of good fortune, 11 of these CEO’s names could be arranged to extract the 11 letters in the name of the 12th CEO! That fact formed the basis of the puzzle. Today, there are a few more women heading Fortune 500 companies, but they still comprise less than 5% of all Fortune 500 CEOs. The gender disparity among full professors in the upper echelons of mathematics is similarly lopsided.
Here are the 11 CEOs (as of the summer of 2011) whose names appear in the Puzzle of Fortune (the extracted letter is in boldface):
LAURA SEN (BJ’s Wholesale Club BJ)
CAROL BARTZ (Yahoo YHOO)
LYNN EISENHANS (Sunoco SUN)
ELLEN KULLMAN (DuPont DD)
CAROL MEYROWITZ (TJX TJX)
PATRICIA WOERTZ (Archer Daniels Midland ADM)
ANGELA BRALY (WellPoint WLP)
ANDREA JUNG (Avon Products AVP)
INDRA NOOYI (PepsiCo PEP)
BETH MOONEY (KeyCorp KEY)
IRENE ROSENFELD (Kraft Foods KFT)
According to Wikipedia, Ursula Burns is not only the first African-American woman to head a Fortune 500 company, she is also the first woman to succeed a woman as CEO of a Fortune 500 company.