Powerful Women, Powerful Words

Over at Dr. Isis's there's a discussion on Time's Time's 25 Most Powerful Women of the Century. No Sarah Palin is not on the list. My mind immediately went to Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi, which goes to show I read too much about business blogs since she's regularly features on lists such as these, 25 Most Powerful Women in Business.
Some of the entries on women in the 20th century I question as truly being "powerful" but I guess it depends on how you define your list. For instance, Mother Theresa is on there. I'm not sure I equate "powerful" with Mother Theresa. I'm also not sure what influence she's had on the world at large. Was she a great person? Sure. Did she do good things that changed that world? I don't know about that. She's no Rosa Parks there. But Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Oprah or some of the makeup/clothing pioneers I can definitely see as being "powerful."
But skip over to Time's Q&A with their business women and you find something else. Most have their heads so far up in the biz-ness their answers are predictable. "What's your best decision ever?" "Duh, coming to work for this company and getting promoted." Doesn't matter whether you've been there two months or twenty years, if you don't say something nice about your current place of employment...better not bother saying anything nice at all.
One of the other questions they ask is "What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?" Most answer with some sort of "women aren't confident enough" blame the victim bullshit, or women just don't blah blah blah for themselves, or but it's so hard raising a family and being taken seriously, but that's probably my fault not society's. However, Joanna Maguire, an Executive Vice President at Lockheed Martin has the balls (see? it's always gotta be a pro-male analogy, even on a wanna-be feminist blog) to really nail down where the problem is:
"Cultural stereotypes continue to present significant challenges for women leaders. Stereotypes routinely cause men and women to underestimate and underutilize women's leadership talent. For example, when women leaders act in gender-consistent ways — cooperative and relationship-focused — they "fit in" as women, but are often perceived as soft leaders by both genders. When women act "like men" — authoritative or ambitious — they are often viewed as too tough and overly aggressive. As a result, successful women leaders must learn to effectively thread the needle and call on the leadership attributes of men and women when the time demands."
Now that I've outed her here as a radical feminist who thinks women are damned if they do and damned if they don't she'll probably get moved to Lockheed's Siberia location. But hopefully she'll slip by. I mean, Lockheed probably has thousands of executive VP's but it's nice to know there's one using their brain today.


  1. Given Time is a US magazine, it's not surprising the list is US-centric. That's why Rosa Parks in on the list even though I wouldn't put her there myself. I consider her a catalyst rather than a protagonist. Ultimately, her direct influence was local to her nation rather than the world at large. Barely anyone outside the United States, save those with a perverse fascination with the US (like myself), have heard of Parks.

    Mother Teresa is an inspirational figure worldwide. According to Wikipedia, she started a small order nuns "with 13 members in Calcutta; today it has more than 4,000 nuns running orphanages, AIDS hospices and charity centers worldwide, and caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless, and victims of floods, epidemics, and famine."

    "In 1982, at the height of the Siege of Beirut, Mother Teresa rescued 37 children trapped in a front line hospital by brokering a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and Palestinian guerrillas. Accompanied by Red Cross workers, she traveled through the war zone to the devastated hospital to evacuate the young patients."

    "By 1996, she was operating 517 missions in more than 100 countries. Over the years, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity grew from twelve to thousands serving the 'poorest of the poor' in 450 centers around the world."

    To me, Mother Teresa's influence on the world at large is far greater than Rosa Parks. I'm also surprised Eva Perón (Evita) is not on the list; a woman that is well regarded throughout Latin American and has inspired both Hollywood movies and Broadway shows.

  2. I thought of Eva Peron as well but figured I must not know enough about Latin American politics and that the Times writers maybe knew better than me her siflgnificance. I see what you're saying on Mother Theresa but I think the big mover behind her was the Catholic Church. Or wonder why Princess Diana or Bill and Melinda Gates couldn't be considered equally as powerful through their effects in various charities. I do see what you are saying though on a global impact as opposes to US-centric.

  3. Well, Bill Gates couldn't be considered for obvious reasons, unless you know something that I don't! ;)

  4. Yes, I think she hits the nail there. It's all about the "percievance" and that we are judged all the time (we being in this aspect female leaders) and that we are seen as a woman first and a leader second. Not sure I second that all the time either.

    I think it would be interesting to have maybe a section "most powerful women" and break it down geographically. If nothing else, that would show ppl that there are women/leaders in general (think about the other one "100 most powerful thinkers in the world" who had <10 woman on the list...)

    There are some ones that I think might have been more obvious than others... E Peron for example. Or The Queen Elisabeth. I'm happy thought that Indira Gandhi and Golda Meier made it. Even if they might not have been all nice and sugery all the time (as for Thatcher I guess?).

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