The Queen tops Woman's Hour Power List

The Queen at Salford The Queen officially opened the BBC North offices in 2012

The Queen has topped Woman's Hour first-ever Power List, a search for the 100 most influential and powerful women in the UK.

She was joined in the top five by the Home Secretary Theresa May; Ana Botin, the CEO of Santander; supreme court judge Baroness Hale; and Elisabeth Murdoch, chairman of the Shine production company.

Helen Boaden, director of BBC News, also made the list under the 'media and technology' category.

The list was compiled from about 4000 listener nominations and voted on by a panel of judges, chaired by former newspaper editor Eve Pollard.

They were revealed to a packed house at the Radio Theatre in London during a live broadcast of Tuesday's programme.

Speaking at the event, Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams said the Power List would be 'a snapshot of the way things are in this country in 2013'.

She also hinted it wouldn't be the last list of its kind, adding that for her the key question now was: 'How do we use power once we have it?'

The Power List in numbers

  • 6% under 40 years of age
  • 70% aged 40-60
  • Average age of women was 53
  • 93% are white
  • 22% Oxbridge-educated
  • 66% married or in a civil partnership
  • 74% have children
  • 12 didn't go to university
  • 3 claimed to work part-time
Invisible women

The list - which only ranked the top 20 in numerical order - sparked some debate among the panel of women who joined presenters Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey.

Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, voiced a concern that many echoed: 'I'm appalled by how few women in the top 20 I'm aware of.'

Labour MP Oona King added it would be interesting to know how many of the chosen women had a true working-class background.

Tellingly, three of the top 20 inherited their wealth, while 93% on the full list were white.

Only 12 didn't get a university degree, with 22% Oxbridge educated. Surprisingly, 74% had children.

On the subject of children, Pollard said there was no doubt that having a baby knocks many women's 'career trajectory off'.

However, two high-profile mothers did make the top 10. Justine Roberts and Carrie Longton, the co-founders of Mumsnet, came in at number 7.

Notable omissions

TV presenter Dawn O'Porter, the youngest on the judges' panel, believed the power of social networking would make a bigger impact on the list in five years' time.

She championed Times journalist and writer Caitlin Moran, who didn't make the final cut. To loud audience applause she said: 'I'm really sorry, you should have been on it.'

One of the youngest to make the list was singer Adele, who O'Porter said 'speaks to a younger generation'. The average age of the women on the Power List was 53.

In a moment of levity, Heather Rabbatts, the first female director at the Football Association, spoke about supporting the people who work for you.

She argued that if you want people to take risks and then something goes wrong, you don't come crashing down on them.

Garvey quipped that the statement should be repeated because BBC management was probably listening.

Start a conversation

Broadcaster Clare Balding also made the final cut, along with actor Joanna Lumley and comedian Dawn French - all of whom have long associations with the BBC.

Murray said she hoped the list would start a conversation and, before the broadcast had wrapped up, there were already plenty of people offering their opinions on Twitter.

One tweeted: 'Indignant at the Queen being named as most powerful woman in Britain by Woman's Hour panel. Message: Girls, success is down to your birth.'

Woman's Power List - the top 20

1. Her Majesty the Queen

2. Rt Hon Theresa May MP (home secretary)

3. Ana Botin (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 and 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 and 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 and 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)

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