Why the world's most powerful women deserve a list - Women's Agenda

Why the world’s most powerful women deserve a list

I was contacted by a young woman yesterday from 2SER, a community radio station in NSW jointly owned by Macquarie University and The University of Technology. She wanted to interview me about the latest ForbesWorld’s 100 Most Powerful Women list.

Lucie Robson had recently been appointed presenter of The Friday Daily.  She proudly informed me she was the first female presenter of the Friday programme and was keen for her first show to feature a story about powerful women.

Her line of questioning focused on the fact that Gina Rinehart (#16) and Beyonce (#17) both rank higher than Julia Gillard (#28). Although that may seem incredulous to some, Forbes bases it’s power list rankings on the criteria of money, media presence and impact on a global scale. On the world stage there’s no comparing our Prime Minister’s media presence with that of Beyonce. The same can be argued when it comes to the way in which impact was measured. Impact refers to spheres of influence across cultures and industries. Gina’s ranking as Australia’s wealthiest person and fifth richest woman in the world is undoubtedly why she is considered more powerful internationally than our most powerful local politician.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is #1, ahead of Brazil’s President Dilma Roussef (#2) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates (#3). Westpac CEO Gail Kelly is the only other Australian woman to make the list at #62.

During the seven-minute phone interview we also covered the question of the value of lists such as this one. I will always support a list that has the words ‘powerful’ and ‘women’ in the title. The benefit of a list like this is that it shines the light on women who are successful and making a difference in the areas of politics, business, media, entertainment, technology, not-for-profits and NGOs.

The more often we celebrate female success, the more ‘normal’ this will seem. We need lists that focus on achievement to provide media coverage balance in a world full of sexiest women and beautiful people lists. Young women need role models like this group of 100 women to aspire to. Beyonce is celebrated in this list for her success in her chosen career as an entertainer, not because she is sexy or beautiful. It’s an important difference, and a powerful one.

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