British and Irish Lions duo Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje lead the charge after a trophy-laden season for both club and country, following the drawn series against the world champion All Blacks.
Barrett became the fifth consecutive All Blacks to win the prestigious gong a year ago and the fly-half could retain his crown in Monte Carlo on 26 November.
She is nominated alongside Kelly Brazier (New Zealand), Portia Woodman (New Zealand), Romane Menager (France) and Safi N'Diaye (France).
In a new step in the selection process, fans, worldwide captains, coaches and media will have their say before the panel considers the winners of the prestigious awards.
"There have been numerous highlights from a fascinating year of global rugby that comprised an outstanding Women's Rugby World Cup, a compelling British and Irish Lions tour, Six Nations and The Rugby Championship competitions and a superb program of test rugby", said World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont.
"As ever, the selection of Men's and Women's 15s Player of the Year nominees by the panel has excellence as the core consideration and all are not just superb players, but role models. I'd like to thank the panel for their expert consideration and look forward to the winners being announced at the World Rugby Awards in Monaco".
The nominees for the 2017 Men's Player of the Year have been selected, and there is a mixture of both northern and southern hemisphere talent on the shortlist.
28-year-old Folau's nomination comes on the back of a sensational 2017.
Wallabies full-back Israel Folau has also been shortlisted after scoring an Australian record 12 tries in 10 Tests this year.