I was intrigued by Forbes’ list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. Not only by who’s included, but also by what it purports to be. Sadly, I’ve heard of only five of the top ten ladies:
- Angela Merkel
- Hillary Clinton
- Janet Yellen
- Melinda Gates
- Christine Lagarde
The other five of the top ten are business leaders but I’ve as much interest in the business league as I have in the Football Association Premier League – none at all. Though the latter is an important client (they use expense@work for their expenses) so I should pretend an interest of a kind.
Out of the next 90 I’ve only heard of only ten. But that’s a measure of my ignorance rather than of anything else. I counted my way through the list with the intention of comparing my ignorance of powerful women with my ignorance of powerful men, but I searched in vain for the equivalent list of 100 most powerful men. I found only a list of the 73 most powerful people in the world.
But of the top ten men in this list I’ve heard of nine, so I suppose I’m less ignorant of men. Sadly, only nine women feature in the list, and one of these is Dilma Rousseff (she’s being impeached, so currently she possesses no power at all).
But what is power?
Wikipedia says of these Forbes lists that ‘Slots are allocated based on the amount of human and financial resources that they have sway over, as well as their influence on world events.‘
But what is sway? What is an event? What is influence? And does ‘amount of human resources’ mean number of people? These are lamentably vague ideas, even if the list makes for a good topic of conversation.
Looking at the list I can find various kinds of power.
- Military power (Obama, Putin, Xi Jinping, Jong un)
- Political power (Merkel, Obama, Xi Jinping, Moon, Putin, Netanyahu, Cameron, Hollande, Modri, etc.)
- Moral or religious power (Pope Francis, Khameini)
- Power to do practical good in the world (Bill & Melinda Gates, Chan)
- Power to sway political opinion (Trump, Clinton, Murdoch)
- Economic power (Yellen, Draghi, Buffet, Bezos, Brin, Cook, and all those CEOs)
- Power to change day-to-day behaviour (Page, Zuckerberg, Cook, Brin)
- Power of invention (Musk, Cook, Page, Brin)
- Legal power (US Supreme Court Justices)
But I find it hard to identify the kind of power that the Queen possesses. She comes 29th in the list of powerful women despite the fact that she’s forbidden to express an opinion.
And I miss the power of entertainers, writers, singers, the makers of sweet drinks, purveyors of fast food, makers of cigarettes, distillers of alcohol, pharmaceutical companies, designers, doctors, cooks, sportsmen and women, and artists. They surely influence us and inspire us in small and big ways every single day.
And then there is the devil and all his works.