Merkel tops Forbes list of most powerful women

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The Independent Culture

From the richest men and women to the top celebrities, Forbes magazine regularly issues annual top 100 lists and the latest, released on August 24, ranks the most powerful women in the world. German Chancellor Angela Merkel tops the 2011 list as the "undisputed" leader of the EU - perhaps female or not.

The following is the top 20:

1. German Chancellor Angela Merkel
2. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
3. Dilma Rousseff, President Brazil
4. Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo Chief Executive
5. Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg
6. Melinda Gates, Cofounder, Cochair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
7. Sonia Gandhi, President, Indian National Congress Party
8. Michelle Obama, First Lady
9. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
10. Irene Rosenfeld, CEO, Kraft Foods
11. Lady Gaga, Entertainer
12. Jill Abramson, Executive Editor, NY Times
13. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
14. Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul
15. Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security
16. Susan Wojcicki, SVP, Advertising, Google
17. Cristina Fernandez, President Argentina
18. Beyoncé Knowles, entertainer
19. Georgina Rinehart, Australian mining tycoon
20. Cher Wang, Cofounder/Chair, HTC - Taiwan's VIA Technologies

Of the 100 on the list, 26 are first-timers, including new heads of state including Yingluck Sinawatra, 59th, prime minister of Thailand.

The members of this club come from government, business, non-profits, and technology as well as from entertainment and media. Several dropped off the list, including domestic entrepreneur Martha Stuart.

The ranking were determined by three metrics: "dollars, a traditional and social media component and power base points."

Multiple spheres of influence - not a single source of authority - were considered, such as celebrities who exhibit business acumen and clout with causes, like Lady Gaga, who raised over $200 million to fight HIV/AIDS.

For the full list, bios and a description of the methodology, see the website: