Forbes’ Most Powerful Women List Includes A Number Of Firsts


For most women, to be on a list like Forbes’ annual ‘Most Powerful Women’ would be a dream come true, but a dream nonetheless. Looking back at the last few years, there are some regular names that keep popping up (Oprah, Sheryl Sandberg, Beyonce, Melinda Gates) which makes you think it’s some exclusive club that you could never infiltrate.

We’re here to tell you that is not only wrong, but the 2014 list can show you evidence!

Sure this year’s bevvy of boss-ladies include some of those familiar faces and names, but there are also a lot of first-timers (18), which is an indication that more and more women are breaking the glass ceiling and taking great strides out in the world. But as for women who are the first female CEO’s of a company, almost half the list fits this description!

Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, comes in at number one, just as she has 10 out of the last 11 years. In 2012, Merkel was ranked number two on the Forbes Most Powerful People (not women) list, the highest a female has ever been ranked.

This year’s list has more self-made billionaires, more technology entrepreneurs, and more women using their power in one domain to influence a different sphere. All together, the list contains twenty-eight C.E.O.s (compared with twenty-four last year), eighteen entrepreneurs (two more than last year) and nine heads of state.

The youngest woman to make the list is 28-year-old Lady Gaga, who ranked at #67. The oldest is Queen Elizabeth II who, at 88, ranked at #35.

The highlights of some of the women who appear on the list for the first time are the first female Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, GM’s first female CEO Mary Barra, the first female self-made African billionaire Folorunsho Alakija, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power (No. 63), the Nasdaq president of global information and technology Adena Friedman (No. 69), and the Governor of the Bank of Russia Elvira Nabiullina (No. 72).


“Women are wielding power in ways that didn’t exist ten years ago,” Moira Forbes, publisher of ForbesWoman, said.

One of the main things that has opened the floodgates a little more and given women more visibility and therefore power, is social media. And that is not just for the celebrities or media moguls on the list. It is a type of social currency that has never existed before, and not only gives everyday people the power to use their voice, but women in positions of leadership the ability to access an audience like never before.

To come up with the list, Forbes looks at four factors: money, media presence, impact, and spheres of influence. Social media can account for two out of those 4 factors. The list this year shows that across a wide variety of industries, the world is becoming more accustomed to seeing women in positions of power and leadership. That is a great thing! However, women only make up 3% of the world’s top 2500 largest public companies, and  according to data for 2014, and there are only 22 female CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies in the US in 2014.

According to Forbes, women only make up 10% of the world’s billionaires in 2014, yet they are wielding more and more power than ever before. Especially with the influx of young female social and philanthropical entrepreneurs who are emerging throughout the world.

Each year the figures increase, but when women at top posts lose their job (such as Jill Abramson from the NY Times) it potentially leaves a gaping hole where every name counts. What does that mean for the rest of the women in society fighting hard to get visibility in every sector? It means that they need to seize the opportunities that have and recognize that a young woman seeing and older woman in a position of power is, in itself, a very powerful statement.

Nancy Rothbard, a professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, told Marie Claire magazine: “Lists are more than a tactic to appeal to our collective desire to sort and classify. They’re chock full of role models for a path that you envision yourself on as a woman. It gives a concrete view in your mind that it is possible.”

Like the Marian Wright Edelman quote used in the documentary ‘Miss Representation’, “You can’t be what you can’t see”. The more women can see the path being made possible for them, the less fears and trepidations we will have about venturing forth as pioneers in whatever we choose to do. You may have no desire to be a billionaire or even an executive at a company, but this list shows that there are women out there who refuse to accept the status quo and are pushing the boundaries for us all to be able to make the choice.





  1. Pingback: Monday Listicle Round-Up | I was a high-school feminist

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.