Forbes Top Women: Power, Influence and "Reach"
In crafting the list of the world’s most powerful women, editor Caroline Howard and her staff looked at billionaires, business, lifestyle, media, non-profits and politics. The result, Forbes magazine’s World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, includes names well-known to most of us: Oprah Winfrey (No. 14), who ended her reign of daytime but continues to rule a media empire, Michele Bachmann (No.22), the polarizing to some and rallying to others Republican presidential candidate, and media influencer Arianna Huffington (No. 31).
The women in the Forbes list have power based on money, but also on reach and increasing spheres of influence. That perhaps explains why the top three posts are held by political leaders or influencers with German Chancellor Angela Merkel coming in first, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff coming in second and third, respectively. Pepsi Co.’s Indra Nooyi and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg round out the top five.
So, how did Howard arrive at the “top 100”? Financial resources, media presence and multiple spheres of influence are the keys to getting on the list. You might not have heard of Zhang Xin (No. 48), but as the co-founder of SOHO, the billionaire runs a real-estate empire that is the largest property developer in China. Amy Pascal, co-chair at Sony Pictures, is not exactly a household name either, but you watch (“The Social Network”) or want to watch (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) the films being made with her at the helm.
However, one should not get too giddy with a most powerful women's list. It is important to note that most of these women (95% if last year’s numbers hold true) will not make Forbes Most Powerful People list. While it would be silly to expect the lists to correlate, the fact is that the .07% women on the People list might be a reflection of the dismal percentages of women in power worldwide (1% heads of state, .03% of top CEOs and .09% of the world’s top 300 billionaires) but falls woefully short of the over 50% of the world’s population that is female.
As women gain more recognition, across countries, cultures and various sectors, the Forbes Women’s list might not be necessary in the future. For now, it serves as a good reminder that women all over the world, in all spheres of life are making a genuine impact on the lives of millions.
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