—Liu Yandong, 67, is the fifth woman since China's founding in 1949 to join the Politburo, which currently has 25 seats. The Politburo reports to the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, which directs policy but has never had a woman in its ranks. Liu is seen as a long-shot candidate for that panel.
—Ma Wen, 64, heads both the ministry that oversees civil servants and the corruption prevention bureau. Ma is a candidate for the Politburo. She also could become a state councilor, a Cabinet-level post.
—Shen Yueyue, 64, is a relatively young official with high-level experience at the city and province level. She has links to President Hu Jintao through her service in the Communist Youth League. Shen could land a spot on the Politburo and might become director of the powerful Central Organization Department, which controls party hiring and firing. She is currently an executive vice director there.
—Sun Chunlan, 62, is the top official in Fujian, a coastal province with a population the size of Poland and a GDP similar to that of Finland or Portugal. Sun is only the second woman in history to become party secretary of a province. Considered a candidate for the Politburo.
—Li Bin, 58, is the former head of China's family planning commission. Li is currently China's only female governor, serving in Anhui province, since being promoted earlier this year. There have only been 4 female governors or regional chairwomen since 1949.