The world's most powerful women revealed

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Angela MerkelPA

Ask any man who the most powerful woman on the planet is and he's likely to name either his wife or his mother - depending on the sort of man he is... Ask Forbes, on the other hand, and they will produce a slightly less subjective list of the great and the good.

So who made the list, who missed out on a top place, and do they deserve it?

The world's most powerful women revealed

The world's most powerful women revealed


The most powerful
Top place goes to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who the magazine claims is the real leader of the European Union. She was followed by Hillary Clinton, who must be used to taking second place after the result of her presidential race. And third goes to Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, leader of one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

But it's not all politics. Business makes a fair showing too, with Indra Nooyi, Chief Executive of PepsiCo in fourth place, and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook in fifth. Slightly further down the list there are also decent appearances from Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft Foods in tenth place and Susan Wojcicki, SVP of Advertising for Google at 16.

Then there are the charities. By far the most powerful on the list is Melinda Gates, Cofounder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at number 6.

There are those running huge, powerful organisations, like Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund at 9 and Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration at 21.

And there are the media types, including Jill Abramson, Executive Editor of the NY Times at 12 and Anne Sweeney, Co-Chair of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney-ABC Television Group at 25.

Where the power lies
Finally is the usual pointless smattering of celebrities. These have been named for their charitable endeavours and business acumen rather than their ability to belt out a tune or stand on a stage. In any case, the most powerful celebrity is apparently Lady Gaga at 11, then Oprah Winfrey at 14, Beyoncé Knowles at 18 and Angelina Jolie at 29.

It's an interesting insight into where we feel power lies. It's also enlightening to see how many of these women are over the age of 40 when the cry of women in this age bracket is that society writes them off. In these cases, 27 of the top 30 are over the age of 40 - with the celebrities appearing as the only exceptions to the rule. In fact, 22 of the top 30 are over the age of 50 and five of them are over 60.

There are also still plenty who make the list because their husband's job, or his family. It's hard to see how Michelle Obama would have made it to eighth place on her own, or Melinda Gates to number 6. Oh and without the family it's a struggle to see how the Queen would make it to number 49 (as well as taking the title of oldest woman in the top 100).

So what do you think of the list? Is it right? Who would you nominate instead? Let us know in the comments.