We usually aren’t fans of end-of-year rankings—like the 25 best actors of the century (Keanu Reeves? Really?)—unless it helps reinforce one of our central beliefs. So, we are naturally thrilled this week with the Forbes annual list of the world’s 100 most powerful women in the world. Most all of them—at least 88 (some don’t give their ages)—are 45 or older. Plus, every woman in the top 31 is in our NextTribe age group.
What’s striking is how few have inherited their power from husbands or family. Most are self-made. We’re also impressed by the kinds of positions these women have. They are true captains of industry—from UPS to CVS to General Motors—world leaders, tech entrepreneurs, and media moguls.
We always say that the decades ahead can be filled with challenges, triumphs, and opportunities to use our years of experience to make a difference. Sure, most of us aren’t going to become an Angela Merkel or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but the point is that we can do something equivalent in our own smaller sphere.
We’re happy that Forbes is recognizing our collective muscle, and all we can say is let the (female) force be with you too.
Here are some highlights of the list.
Do You See a Trend Here?
Four of the women on the list lead countries that have been remarkably successful at controlling coronavirus. They are Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, Erna Solberg of Norway, Sanna Marin of Finland, and Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand.
A study earlier this year found that “not only were infection rates generally lower in the female-led nations; fatality rates from the virus were also noticeably lower, too.”
Forbes points out that New Zealand successfully eliminated the virus in both waves, and that “Tsai’s leadership through Covid is seen as a global model.”
The Biggest Leap
Last year, Kamala Harris wasn’t even on the list, but in 2020, having been elected to number two in the U.S., she comes at Forbes’ number three. Ahead of her are only the stupendous Merkel and also Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank.
We’ve written about the wonder that is Stacey Abrams, who comes in under the wire at number 100. A true force to be reckoned with, she was instrumental in turning Georgia blue in November through her grassroots get-out-the-vote efforts. She is still at it, preparing voters for two run-off elections for Senate seats in January.
The Power Centers
Since Forbes is a U.S. publication, it’s not really surprising that 46 of the women on the list are from the States. This, however, is surprising: Only 6.5 percent of those from the U.S. live in the New York City area, traditional the epicenter of finance and industry. That’s the same percentage who live in each of these areas: the South, the Midwest, Washington D.C., and Seattle/Washington area. The real center of power for women here is California, which 37 percent of American women on the list call home.
Juggling at a Higher Level
At one point in our cultural history, if a woman was a success in her field, it would be assumed that she was a “career woman.” That meant single and married to her job. Today, that’s far from true. Of those who reported marital status or children, 43 percent were married and 40 percent had children.
The Crown Slips
At age 94, Queen Elizabeth II is the oldest woman on the list. Being the longest serving monarch in British history, she’s a perennial force, but her ranking has dropped over the past three years. In 2018, she was number 23; last year she was number 40. This year, she’s at 46. Several of her subjects are ahead of her, such as Emma Walmsley, CEO of the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, at number 12. Could it be because of the icy way she’s portrayed in this season of The Crown?