BBC Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour has announced its first female power list, a top 100 chart of Britain’s most powerful women.
The Queen took number one spot with Home Secretary Theresa May in second place.
The average age of those listed is 53 and, unsurprisingly, most are white and privately-educated. Some, like Elisabeth Murdoch in fifth place, were born into their lucrative businesses.
Singer Adele was wittily placed at 21, and one place behind her was British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, who complained that women-only lists are counter-intuitive to feminism.
Former Sunday Mirror editor Eve Pollard chaired the panel of high-profile women judges. They decided contenders should be chosen for their power (control over money and legislation) rather than influence in softer terms.
For instance, Santander UK CEO Anna Botin made third place, but much-loved comedian Miranda Hart and game-changing Olympians weren’t featured at all.
What a shame, when so many girls have felt empowered to re-invent themselves by these role models.
But the biggest oversight of the list, in my view, is the way it sidesteps the timeless female problem of priorities after a family. Many of the top 100 women have achieved success by mimicking the behaviour of male peers.
The Queen spent much of her children’s childhoods on the Royal Yacht Britannia and Theresa May made a decision not to have kids.
If we want women to increase their influence, we cannot ignore the split loyalties they face, or dismiss the desire of many parents, of either sex, to be present for their children’s infancy.
We need a high-profile list of people enabling female power which features men like Nick Clegg, who legislate for flexible working and shared parenting.
Harriet Harman MP (number 14 on the list) has positively worked against this by rubbishing the contribution of dads.
By all means let’s celebrate inspiring women, but not just the ones prepared to delegate to nannies. If men are allowed to take on a larger part in parenting, a more diverse group of women will appear on power lists.