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The world’s most powerful (celebrities) women

The annual Forbes magazine ‘World’s 100 most powerful women’ issue has hit the shelves and makes for some interesting reading. The women range in age from 24 (Lady Gaga) to 84 (Queen Elizabeth II) and hail from all ends of the Earth; from Costa Rica to Qatar.

These women run the countries we live in, champion human rights causes, publish and share the news and literature we read, create the music we listen to, run the companies that we work for and design the clothes on our backs. Forbes magazine states “Our assessment is based less on traditional titles and roles and more on creative influence and entrepreneurship”.

The top 10 rounded out as follows:

  1. Michelle Obama  Founder of the Let’s Move! campaign, USA First Lady
  2. Irene Rosenfeld  CEO of Kraft Foods
  3. Oprah Winfrey  Talk show host, CEO of Harpo Entertainment
  4. Angela Merkel  Chancellor of Germany
  5. Hillary Clinton  US Secretary of State
  6. Indra Nooyi  CEO of PepsiCo
  7. Lady Gaga  Singer, entertainer
  8. Gail Kelly CEO of Westpac Banking Corporation
  9. Beyoncé Knowles Singer, entertainer
  10. Ellen DeGeneres Talk show host, actor

The top ten are all Americans citizens bar Gail Kelly (raised in South Africa but an Australian citizen – we can claim her) and Angela Merkel of Germany.  This sets the trend for the entire list as 69 out of the 100 women are Americans. Julia Gillard ranked 58th leaving Australia with a grand total of two citizens on the list.

Forbes organised the contenders into four groups: politics, business, media and lifestyle (entertainment, sports and fashion) then ranked the women within each group, and later, group against group to come up with the complete list of 100. It doesn’t seem like a bad idea in theory; but there seem to be some inconsistencies in the grouping of women and their final positions on the list.

For example:

35. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy – A woman with a 23 year career as a high profile model, singer and most recently, actress. As of two years ago she is the ‘First Lady’ to France. In the past two years she has run the circuit of international political events alongside her husband and recently spoke out against a stoning death sentence handed down in Iran.

Is it acceptable or accurate to group Bruni-Sarkozy in politics and rank her above women such as:

43. Christine Lagarde – The former lawyer is now the first ever female minister of economy in France. This is after becoming the first female head of the international law firm, Baker & Mackenzie. To top it off, last year Lagarde was voted ‘Europe’s Finance Minister of the Year’.

70. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi – The Minister of Economy in the United Arab Emirates. In the words of Forbes magazine, “Sheikha Lubna is a regional power in her own right…an observant Muslim, she fights to improve the rights of women in the region.”

Within the politics group Bruni-Sarcozy ranked 12th  most powerful out of 29 women while Julia Gillard trailed behind seven places to rank 19th. Gillard has had a rough trot over the past few months but, c’mon now, that just doesn’t seem right.

And then there are the women whose inclusion raises an eyebrow…

45. Sarah Jessica Parker – The beloved SJP or simply, Carrie to most. One of the 100 (actually, top 50!) most powerful women in the world? Debatable.

Maybe the list is legitimate and this really is how things stand. The concept and appeal of celebrity has grown enormously over the past decades and has undeniably given both women and men a huge amount of power. It’s also interesting to note that the age old rule of ‘money = power’ continues to ring true. Despite their diversities the majority of the 100 women come from families on the wealthier end of the scale. When taken with a boulder sized grain of salt, the list is an interesting observational piece on the progression of women in the workplace, and perhaps, the bias of the American media!

For the full list of powerful women click here

What do you think of the list? Is there anyone you think missed out or is there someone you don’t think should have made the cut?

One thought on “The world’s most powerful (celebrities) women

  1. I find it interesting how many first ladies and entertainers are listed here. I have some problems with first ladies being thought of as powerful, because next to their husband, they pale quite a lot in comparison. The ‘first lady’ role is a really interesting one, because even though it was the husband that was elected and got all the power, they seem to be compelled to start some big project or do a lot for charity. I’m sure they do it for themselves, but it’s difficult to refrain from reading that as trying to make their husband look better.

    My problem with entertainers is that they are essentially making money from appeasing people and giving them what they want, what they will buy, etc. Money can be very powerful, but I don’t see the celebrities as particularly powerful (aside from Oprah) because they don’t seem to stand for anything, or really engage with trying to change things for women, for the better. I think a CEO is more powerful because by being a woman CEO, they are paving the path for more women to succeed in business, where typically women are under-represented in this area.

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