Americans put Bill Gates in the top 10 list of men they most admire. The Microsoft co-founder was named the fifth most admired man of 2010, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll (via TechFlash).

The results were based on landline and cellular phone surveys with 1,019 adults living in the continental US. They were asked the question "What man that you have heard or read about, living today in any part of the world, do you admire the most?" The rankings below are based on total mentions:

  1. Barack Obama: 22 percent
  2. George W. Bush: 5 percent
  3. Bill Clinton: 4 percent
  4. Nelson Mandela: 2 percent
  5. Bill Gates: 2 percent
  6. Pope Benedict XVI: 2 percent
  7. Rev. Billy Graham: 2 percent
  8. Jimmy Carter: 2 percent
  9. Glenn Beck: 2 percent
  10. The Dalai Lama: 1 percent

Gates is moving up the ranks: he was seventh last year. His public image has been transformed over the years from a monopolist into a philanthropist. His work health and education initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have not gone unnoticed.

His most recent initiative with Warren Buffett, which has American billionaires promise to donate the majority of their wealth to charity, has been quite successful. Even Mark Zuckerberg has signed up.

The same question was also asked for the most admired woman, again ranked by total mentions:

  1. Hillary Clinton: 17 percent
  2. Sarah Palin: 12 percent
  3. Oprah Winfrey: 11 percent
  4. Michelle Obama: 5 percent
  5. Condoleezza Rice: 2 percent
  6. Queen Elizabeth: 2 percent
  7. Angelina Jolie: 1 percent
  8. Margaret Thatcher: 1 percent
  9. Aung San Suu Kyi: 1 percent
  10. Laura Bush: 1 percent
  11. Barbara Bush: 1 percent

Unfortunately, no woman from the tech industry made the list. Maybe next year?