So who is the most powerful woman in Britain?

Woman's Hour to draw up 100 names for its Power List, highlighting areas of gender inequality

More than 33 years after Margaret Thatcher first entered Downing Street, the BBC will respond to concerns over the lack of female representation in the upper echelons of British society by launching an unprecedented project to identify the 100 most powerful women in the nation.

The "Woman's Hour Power List" will be compiled during a month of special programmes on Radio 4 and will be supported by online nominations submitted by members of the public.

The list of 100 names will be drawn up by a panel headed by the writer and former national newspaper editor Eve Pollard. The panel, and the programme's listeners, will be informed by a series of pieces of expert analysis on various sectors of society, from business to law. Fresh from her role as an Olympics commentator, Clare Balding will present an assessment of the most powerful women in sport. Other sectors will include fashion, retail and social media.

The editor of Woman's Hour, Alice Feinstein, said the exercise would highlight areas of British life in which there was a dearth of powerful women. "My suspicion is that we may find that those individuals are concentrated in certain areas, they are doing certain jobs and there are huge gulfs where women hardly appear at all," she said.

She added that previous research had highlighted severe shortages of women in powerful positions in the judiciary, in higher education and the military. "In the House of Commons men outnumber women four to one and there are just five women CEOs in the FTSE 100," she said.

The Power List will "celebrate the successes" of women, but is also intended to provoke a debate on the reasons why women have not made greater progress in British society and whether there are "very good reasons why some women might not want to take those positions", she said.

According to Woman's Hour presenter Jenni Murray, some women are still not comfortable with the idea of being considered powerful. "Elizabeth I was powerful, as were Catherine de Medici and Margaret Thatcher, but it rather feels as if power in a woman is still considered 'not quite nice'," she said.

Her colleague Jane Garvey said that even those women who do exercise power in British society might feel their efforts were unrecognised. "You could be forgiven for thinking it's still a man's world and we're lucky to be in it."

Our nominations: Independent writers choose

Harriet Walker: Style Editor

Stella McCartney She's has had a triumphant year, presenting an eveningwear collection in London last February and outfitting TeamGB for the Olympics this summer. Her eponymous label has posted profits year on year, with several new stores opening in 2012 too.

Natalie Massenet In a little over 10 years, her bright idea has transformed itself into a multi-million pound business (Net-A-Porter) that has changed the face of modern retail, spawning menswear and discount spin-offs. Recently named British Fashion Council chairman.

Katherine Butler: Comment Editor

Camila Batmanghelidjh The psychotherapist-turned-charity worker has done outstanding work not just for the tens of thousands of child beneficiaries of her outreach programmes, but in keeping the scandalous scale of inequality in the public consciousness.

Margaret Hodge The Labour chairs of the Public Accounts Committee has emerged as a fearless champion of the taxpayer, calling all kinds of groups to account, from HMRC bosses who refused to divulge details of sweetheart tax deals, to corporations like Starbucks.

Lisa Markwell: Executive Editor

Nina Gold The Emmy-winning casting director has discovered and nurtured myriad British movie stars and has a reputation for being fun and inspired in equal measures. Recently responsible for Mike Leigh's genius line-ups, The King's Speech and the cast of cult favourite Game of Thrones.

Phoebe Philo Masterful designer at fashion house Celine. Brilliantly made the label a success again, then imposed her maternity leave on a male-dominated industry and has just returned triumphant after her third child.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform