The Queen beats Theresa May to top Woman’s Hour power list

JK Rowling, Adele and Clare Balding also made the top 100 most influential women in a BBC Radio 4 survey

The Queen has been voted Britain’s most influential woman in a BBC Radio 4 survey. 


Her royal highness pipped Home Secretary Theresa May, who came in at number two, and Santander boss Ana Botin, the third most powerful female in the UK, to the top spot. 

Earlier this year a panel of judges – writer Dawn Porter, journalist Eve Pollard, labour politician Oona King, former Woman’s Hour editor Jill Burridge, crime writer Val McDermid and conservative politician Priti Patel – compiled a list of powerful women for Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. The aim of the survey was to find out which women have the biggest impact on the UK’s economy, society, politics and culture. 

Harry Potter author JK Rowling came in at number 13 while founders of Mumsnet Justine Roberts and Carrie Longton were named the seventh most influential women in the UK. 

The deputy leader of the Labour Party Harrier Harman, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller and Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the top twenty. As did Random House CEO Dame Gail Rebuck and CEO of Burberry Angela Ahrendts. 

Adele, Clare Balding, Dawn French, Joanna Lumley, The Apprentice’s Karren Brady, Radio Times columnist Sarah Millican, Stella McCartney, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Tracey Emin and Victoria Beckham were also amongst the influential women in the Woman’s Hour top 100. 

Judge Eve Pollard said: “Most women on our list were judged to have power because they had reached a place where they have control – of policy, of direction, of influence, of staff.”

She went on to add: “What this list does is shine a light on those sectors where too few women are getting to the top, like politics, FTSE companies, the military and journalism. Our legacy, we hope, is that this list might change that.”

Here is the top 20 in full: 

1. Her Majesty The Queen
2. Rt Hon Theresa May MP (Home Secretary)
3. Ana Botin (CEO, Santander UK)
4. Baroness Brenda Hale of Richmond (Supreme Court judge)
5. Elisabeth Murdoch (chairman, Shine Group)
6. Professor Dame Sally Davies (Chief Medical Officer)
7. Justine Roberts and Carrie Longton (co-founders, Mumsnet)
8. Lady Justice Hallett (Appeal Court judge)
9. Angela Ahrendts (CEO, Burberry)
10. Dame Gail Rebuck (chairman and CEO, The Random House Group)
11. Frances O’Grady (general secretary, TUC)
12. Moya Greene (chief executive, Royal Mail)
13. JK Rowling (author and philanthropist)
14. Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP (deputy leader, Labour Party)
15. Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell (President and vice-chancellor, University of Manchester)
16. Rosemary Squire (co-founder and co-chief executive, Ambassador Theatre Group)
17. Rt Hon Maria Miller MP (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport)
18. Sara Thornton (chief constable, Thames Valley Police)
19. Ann Glover (chief scientific adviser to the European Commission)
20. Nicola Sturgeon MSP (Deputy First Minister of Scotland)


Woman’s Hour is on BBC Radio 4 every weekday at 10:00am and Saturdays at 4:00pm