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Forbes publishes list of world’s 100 most powerful women

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Natalie Calkin
WVoN co-editor

Forbes recently published its annual list of the world’s most powerful women.

The list is dominated by women holding positions in politics, the media, business and technology and ranks women by factors including dollars, media presence and impact.

Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, tops the list for the second year running. Merkel has been widely credited with presiding over Germany’s thriving economy, despite other countries being in the midst of recession.

The top three spots on the list in fact all remain unchanged from last year. Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, comes in at number two and Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, at number three.

Forbes said that it is no surprise that women in political roles feature so prominantly on the list because their influence, already strong, is growing year on year.

Women in the technology sector also fared well, contributing over 15 percent of the spots overall and a quarter of the top 20 positions.

Notable women in technology included Melinda Gates (four), Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg (ten), with Yahoo’s new leader, Marissa Meyer, just missing the top 20.

Commentators have described some of the choices as “a tad odd” wondering why Lady Gaga has been placed at number 14, ahead, even, of the Queen.

The Guardian feels the list is “all about the money…the ability to earn it, control it, manipulate it, and influence how others spend it”.

This raises important issues about power and what kind of power women should aspire to. Has the time come to define women’s influence by other criteria? For example, the ability to affect change and to “stand up to dissenters and deliver viewpoints with clarity, bravery and authority”.

Aung San Suu Kyi at spot number 19 seems to be one woman who has achieved both – earning political power as well as being an inspirational, positive influence for often lesser-hailed values such as democracy, human rights and dignity.

Achievements of the women on the Forbes list should not be undermined. However, as long as power structures remain rooted in patriarchal values, certain lists, such as this, seem to serve to preserve the status quo rather than reflect the range of power and influence that women can demonstrate in all walks of life.

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