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Yes, it’s been a week since I last posted and look at that – and no war has broken out in the Middle East!

So I hurry to alert your attention to the recently published list compiled by FORBES, ranking the 100 most “powerful” women in the world. So we can segway back into the conversation about gender… Here’s the list. I figured you’d like to see the top 10:

Rank Name Age Country Category
1 Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel

Chancellor, Germany

58 Germany Politics
2 Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State, United States

64 United States Politics
3 Dilma Rousseff

Dilma Rousseff

President, Brazil

64 Brazil Politics
4 Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates

Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

48 United States Humanitarian
5 Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson

Executive Editor, New York Times Co.

58 United States Media
6 Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi

President, Indian National Congress, India

65 India Politics
7 Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

First Lady, United States

48 United States Politics
8 Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde

Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

56 France Humanitarian
9 Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano

Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, United States

54 United States Politics
10 Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

COO, Facebook

42 United States Technology

(Source: Forbes 2012)

Note that the four most influential ladies are regular mentions here at the Gates…

I think Forbes had a weird day though, when someone tagged Christine Lagarde as “Humanitarian”. The word is LEADING FINANCIAL STRATEGIST. I’ve asked the editor, Caroline Howard, on Twitter what’s going on (Update below!)

If you are like me, you immediately scroll to the bottom though — to see who’s nr 100. It’s Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani, a 29-year-old Chair, Qatar Museums Authority, Qatar. Her profile seems to indicate that her family relations with the Emir has more to do with her influence than her job.

I have always felt ambiguous about lists like this. It’s so reductive. And really says more about people defining what ‘power’ than it does about who has power. (Beyond the considerable cultural power of being the one defining anything…). So I don’t know why Merkel is more powerful than Clinton this year. Perhaps because Clinton is leaving politics while Merkel most likely has a few more years before stepping down? And part of the political power is linked to people following you because they bank on you one day excersising more influence and they should therefore be on your good side. Dunno.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine penned a nice analysis of the list: Career Lessons From The Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women Rankings (Forbes, Aug. 26, 2012)

This might seem superhuman to the everyday person but it shouldn’t discourage you from drawing attention to yourself and your accomplishments. There are numerous examples in the list of women given executive positions because their past accomplishments were noticed or given media prominence because they spoke up in some way. These women were not just discovered toiling away in a cubicle – they were putting themselves out there.

Hear hear!


UPDATE: Reply from Howard. Much appreciated!

@CarolineLHoward: Great list! But why is Lagarde suddenly not an economist? (http://www.forbes.com/power-women/list/ …)

@GatesofCity for purpose of $ ranking, used IMF budget, same as NGOs and philanthropies, rather than profit or market cap.#stillaneconomist