Tuesday 12 February 2013

Woman’s Hour gets it wrong

Who are the 100 most powerful women in Britain? This morning, BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour finally unveiled it’s ‘Power List’, defined as “the 100 most powerful women in the UK at the start of 2013”.

Like any good Liberal Democrat, I studied the list to see whether there were any party members included. There is one person with a particularly good claim, Sharon Bowles MEP. She chairs the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, the parliament’s most powerful committee. That makes her arguably the second most powerful woman in European politics after Angela Merkel.

Sharon Bowles is not on the list at all. And neither is Lynne Featherstone, who has played a key role in advancing women’s rights in the coalition government.

But look who has been included. The Queen occupies the no.1 spot, even though she has no real power. The list also includes pop singer Adele, comedians Dawn French and Sarah Millican, and Victoria Beckham.

Who chose this list? The readers of Take a Break? No, it turns out to have been a panel comprising Eve Pollard, Jill Burridge, Oona King, Val McDermid, Dawn O’Porter and Priti Patel, assisted by some unnamed ‘expert witnesses’.

Admittedly, the list takes a broad definition of the term ‘power’, going beyond politics and business to encompass society and culture. Even so, there is a difference between power and fame. To suggest that Victoria Beckham is more powerful than Sharon Bowles is frankly ridiculous.

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