Forbes Named Six Women on its 70 Most Powerful People List — What Happened?
4:55 pm, November 7th | by Amy Tennery
Last week Forbes released its list of the 70 most powerful people in the world. Unlike Fortune’s “40 Under 40″ list, which was compiled subjectively (and only included people in business), Forbes’ list was compiled using a cut-and-dry methodology — and was therefore relatively immune to my arm-flailing and table-pounding when staggeringly few women made it onto the list.
This methodology, however, yielded just six women of purported “power.” And none are in the business sphere. And that stinks. How Indra Nooyi, Meg Whitman or, heck, even Martha Stewart didn’t make it onto their list is beyond me. Were vague factors like “how actively the candidates wield their power” to blame? Certainly some of the criteria — like financial resources controlled by each candidate — were incorruptible. But the aforemetioned power-wielding seems more like a matter of opinion.
With that in mind, today Forbes broached the issue — and Moira Forbes came up with one key point:
“Perhaps the lesson to be gleaned here is that the business world is the one arena where gender barriers are most profound. Business remains an area defined by hierarchy and rank, where power is often positional and rooted in titles and the amount of money you control”
This is completely valid — and true. To be fair, Mogulite encountered a similar phenomenon on its power grid — only a handful of businesswomen cracked the top 70 on our own list. But it still doesn’t account for why zero women in business made it onto Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful people — in the magazine of record, so far as power is concerned.
What happened? Since we weren’t privy to all the methodology, there’s no way to tell for sure. Why was GE’s Jeffrey Immelt included, in part because Forbes “counted the number of employees” at his company, and Nooyi wasn’t, is somewhat perplexing. Pepsico and GE each have roughly 300,000 employees.
I guess we can chalk it up to hierarchy and rank and power and fancy suits and… yawn. It’s another list that raises lots of questions — and provides few answers.