Wow! What an interesting question.
My mom was a widow with three children at age 19. She had to be mom and dad. She chopped the wood and she could cook. She could work a garden, mend fence and then sew clothes. So I guess I was raised that women could be in charge.
Funny story: My mother was tall. You know, when you are a kid,every one seems taller anyway. But my mom stood a good 5'10" back then and wore high heels.
I noticed one day she was taller than most men at church. I was about 13 and starting to notice I was a little taller than boys. I asked her, "Mom, does it bother you that you are taller than most men in church?"
"No," she replied, "it keeps them in their place!"
My 13 y/o is a strong-willed and a leader. I just accept it and tell her, "Be careful where you lead people because leaders are responsible for the path they choose for others to follow." I just can't imagine saying to her, "You can't be a leader - you are a girl!"
I think the most powerful leaders are ones who have gotten down in the dirt. The best military generals (in my opinion) are the ones who were enlisted first.
Perhaps the best teaching on becoming powerful I've received is knowing that respect is commanded and not demanded.
I can't imagine life without the Amelia Earhardt's and others like her that have opened the doors for women.
That being said, I still am pretty old fashioned. I like having doors opened for me. I like to wear skirts. I like being feminine. And yet, I like to fish and ride four-wheelers. I guess you can say I like to have my cake and eat it too! But I know one thing: I can stand on my own two feet and I don't have to depend on a man for much. And THAT is power.
I don't have the desire to be in a large corporation as a leader so I find it difficult to answer the overt/covert part of your question but I used to work at the Pentagon and have been around a lot of military women that I think did a fine job.