Woman's Hour power list: Queen tops BBC Radio 4 survey

Her Majesty the Queen The Queen: In the hot seat of power

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The Queen, Home Secretary Theresa May and Santander bank boss Ana Botin have been declared the UK's top three most powerful women in a BBC survey.

A panel of judges compiled a list of the country's 100 most influential females for Radio 4's Woman's Hour.

Further down were author JK Rowling at seventh and Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at 20th.

One judge, journalist Eve Pollard, said the list highlighted the sectors where women were still under-represented.

The Queen's granddaughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, did not make the list but the judges noted her potential to do so.

'Soft power'

Ms Pollard said: "Most women on our list were judged to have power because they had reached a place where they have control - of policy, of direction, of influence, of staff.

"The panel, a democratic group, also felt that we should include some women who have what we describe as soft power - not hire and fire or innovative financial decisions but the ability to transform the way we think about ourselves.

"Inevitably, not everyone will agree with the 100 we have chosen. There are some omissions. For example, we had long debates about the Duchess of Cambridge. Is she influential? Hugely. Is she powerful? Not yet.

"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."

David Cameron's speechwriter Clare Foges, singer Adele and broadcaster Clare Balding were among those outside the top 20 but on the full list.

The judging panel also included Conservative MP Priti Patel, Labour peer Oona King and crime novelist Val McDermid.

Figures compiled by the BBC News website last year showed fewer than a third of the UK's most influential jobs were held by women.

Women occupied on average 30.9% of the most senior positions across 11 key sectors analysed, including business, politics, the judiciary and policing.

Campaigners said progress was still too slow.

The top 20 names in the Woman's Hour list are:

  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)

More information about the Women's Hour Power List can be found here.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Would be a far better to list the most powerful people in the UK and then contemplate how few women make that list in 2013.

    After all, being first amongst equals in a half-empty pond is rather meaningless in itself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    So the most powerful woman in Britain has earned her power through an accident of birth. Not much to aspire to.. Also, is it just me or isn't the point of a constitutional monarchy that they're not wielding power anymore??

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Would it be better to have a list of inspiring women? A list of powerful women seems so meaningless to most of us ordinary beings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Well IMO and experience there's usually an extremely powerful, intelligent, & adept woman behind every 'powerful' man; whether they be a mother or a wife! You don't need to be an industrial leader or entrepreneur to be powerful & sucessful: shame on woman's hour for failing to recognise this & placing celebrity above achievement!

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    What a wasted effort for this outcome. She does not represent someone future girls could aspire to be . She is not self made and her power is shored up by generation of powerful kings and queens. She makes a good job of it ? Well what else could she do? You have really let yourselves down Womans Hour


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