Should the Queen have topped Woman's Hour power list?

Feb 12, 2013

List of 100 politicians, entertainers and business leaders too 'white, middle-aged and middle-class'

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IS THE QUEEN really the most powerful woman in Britain? It's a question being asked today after BBC Radio 4 published its first Woman's Hour Top 100 power list and put the 86-year-old monarch at number one, above politicians, distinguished business leaders and influential figures from the world of literature and entertainment.

A panel of five independent judges chaired by former Sunday Express editor Eve Pollard began compiling the Top 100 for the long-running Radio 4 programme in November. The Queen is followed by Home Secretary Theresa May and Santander bank boss Ana Botin in second and third place.

For anti-monarchy group Republic the Queen's place as the most powerful woman in Britain "really brings the credibility of the exercise into question". The Guardian's Jane Martinson, goes further, saying the list is "overwhelmingly white, middle-aged and middle-class".

Martinson asks if the panel could or should have chosen a more diverse group, pointing out that around half of the list went to private school and Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth, who features in the top 10, was "born into" her role. Evening Standard columnist Rosamund Urwin questioned why the list contained only one woman in her twenties, singer Adele, and no one from newspapers.

Woman's Hour editor Alice Feinstein, who was not part of the judging panel, defended the Monarch's place at the top, telling the Daily Telegraph: "The Queen has a lot of potential power she could exercise, but doesn't.

"I know that the panel considered her weekly meeting with the Prime Minister to be a key indicator of her power. She has been doing the job a long time – and is a major repository of knowledge. The Queen is highly respected because of her experience and access."

Pollard said compiling the list was a case of recognising "hard power" – such as the Queen's position as the head of state in Britain and the constitutional monarch of the 16 states in the Commonwealth Realms.

Pollard said she understood some of the panel's choices had been "controversial" – including the decision not to include the Duchess of Cambridge. "Is she [Kate] influential? Hugely. Is she powerful? Not yet," she told Radio 4's Today Programme.

"What this list does is shine a light on those sectors where too few women are getting to the top, like politics, FTSE companies, the military and journalism. Our legacy, we hope, is that this list might change that."

Woman's Hour power list: the top 20

1. Her Majesty The Queen

2. Rt Hon Theresa May MP (Home Secretary)

3. Ana Botín (CEO, Santander UK)

4. Baroness Brenda Hale of Richmond (Supreme Court Judge)

5. Elisabeth Murdoch (Chairman, Shine Group)

6. Professor Dame Sally Davies (Chief Medical Officer)

7. Justine Roberts & Carrie Longton (Co-founders, Mumsnet)

8. Lady Justice Hallett (Appeal Court Judge)

9. Angela Ahrendts (CEO, Burberry)

10. Dame Gail Rebuck (Chairman and CEO, The Random House Group)

11. Frances O'Grady (General Secretary, TUC)

12. Moya Greene (Chief Executive, Royal Mail)

13. JK Rowling (author and philanthropist)

14. Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP (Deputy Leader, Labour Party)

15. Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell (President & Vice-Chancellor, University of Manchester)

16. Rosemary Squire (co-founder and co-Chief Executive, Ambassador Theatre Group)

17. Rt Hon Maria Miller MP (Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport)

18. Sara Thornton (Chief Constable, Thames Valley Police)

19. Ann Glover (Chief Scientific Adviser to the European Commission)

20. Nicola Sturgeon MSP (Deputy First Minister of Scotland)

For the rest of the 100 see here

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An unassailable reason why this NON-ELECTED appalling woman and her dreadful institution Monarchy should be replaced immediately with an alternative people friendly Republic.

Of course the majority are "white, middle-aged and middle-class" because the majority of British women are white, it takes time to become powerful, and powerful people inevitably become or are seen as middle-class. But I am sure that they were not all born middle-class, and apart from the Queen, they were not powerful when they were young.

On the other hand, I cannot see why Adele or Clare Balding are "powerful".

They seem to have mistaken 'influential' for 'powerful'.........I can believe that more people pay attention to Dawn French or Sarah Millican, because their profiles are higher in mass media/chat mags etc but to decide that either is more powerful than, say, Shami Chakrabarti...............doesn't inspire young women/girls much does it?