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The Forbes List of Most Powerful Women

October 7, 2010

I know this list has been floating around for the past week but I finally just got a chance to actually look at the whole list and I have to say, Forbes always manages to leave me scratching my head. What is “power?” How is it defined? Popularity, influence, impact on the world or community? Wealth? All of the above? I mean, Lady Gaga is certainly popular, wealthy and has a new-found interest in some political advocacy, but I’m having a hard time seeing what makes her one of the most powerful women on the planet. Also, the list certainly seems to prize certain western-style characteristics over others, even if not all of the women are from western countries. Note that many on the list are famous and wealthy but what about lesser-known women who promote women’s rights in some of the most dangerous places on earth? Are they powerful in their own right?

And a note about Michelle Obama. I have never been able to really dislike the woman in the way that so many others appear to- during the election people were just downright obnoxious. Basically, I like to stay away from turning politicians’ families into targets. I also think after watching what Hillary went through as First Lady, any FLOTUS gets a pretty bum rap if she dares speak more than 5 sentences out loud. That said, I’m not really sure what makes Michelle Obama the most powerful woman in the world at this point.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. HillaryFan permalink
    October 7, 2010 12:13 pm

    Good post. I agree with you completely. I never really thought about how so many of the women are defined by traditional notions of power- wealth, business success and formal positions of power such as President, SOS etc.

    While I am glad Hillary is on the list and although I think she should be higher than #5, the list seems to be a rather narrowly defined club.

    But then again, what do we expect from Forbes?

    • rachel permalink
      October 7, 2010 1:30 pm

      I don’t totally dislike First Lady Michelle Obama one of the comments she made about Hillary during the 08 elections still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I think Michelle is ranked number one basically because she has the ear of the president and she can get lots of publicty for any cause she chooses to champion. When I think about powerful people, I think of things like people having a positive impact on thousands of people and that the world would be drastically altered had they not not been around or when they leave. I am not sure Lady Gaga measures up to that.

  2. October 7, 2010 2:30 pm

    http://www.salon.com/life/feminism/index.html?story=/mwt/broadsheet/2010/10/07/forbes_powerful_women

    This link is to another interesting commentary on the Forbes List.

    Placing at the top of the list someone who is married to the most powerful man in the US and who has placed their own business career on hold (she was a highly paid exec with a Chicago health system) says more about Forbes than it does of the FLOTUS.

    I don’t hate Michelle Obama, but I also have a negative comment she made about Hillary in 2008 that I haven’t been able to get out of my head…

  3. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    October 7, 2010 3:08 pm

    Forbes basically told us why they put Michelle first: she’s the first black First Lady. Then, as if they knew that might seem a little skimpy to some, they added that she used to be a lawyer and is doing good work in bringing attention to the problem of childhood obesity. Lame. Doesn’t seem consistent with the fact that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf comes in at No. 86 on the list…Still, I’m glad Hillary is #5 and ranked ahead of Lady Gaga and Ellen Degeneres.

  4. October 7, 2010 6:14 pm

    The list is becoming irrelevant for me too. I also disliked how they put the women’s marital status and how many kids they have, as though that was relevant.

  5. tiffy permalink
    October 7, 2010 10:56 pm

    Michele Obama is powerful, but there’s no way she’s #1 no matter how you measure it. Forbes does this list just to get attention. Sadly to say, that’s how most of the media operates nowaday. They’re no longer as credible as in the past.

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