It isn't a big surprise that 10 of the 25 women on the fourth Business Today Most Powerful Women in Indian Business have earned their spurs in banking or finance. Our three previous listings have also reflected similar proportions. Yet, if you look more closely at the numbers, you may see some trends emerging.
More women from fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) make it to the list this year than have in the past. A fair number come from the health sciences as well as government services. But one of the highlights of this year's power list is the eight new entrants. While the fresh faces on our list add to its diversity, I must confess that compiling the Power 25 is becoming tougher as the list of contenders grows longer each year.
Compiling a list like this is as it is difficult. How do you define something intangible like power anyway? Clearly, it's not something that has to do with designations or titles. If it did, making a list like this would be a mechanical exercise. But it doesn't and, hence, we defined power in three ways.
First, it is the ability to influence industry or a business (like Reserve Bank of India's Deputy Governor Usha Thorat does). Second, it is the ability to change the rules of the game in a business (like Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has been able to do in the biotech business). Lastly, power could be demonstrated by a distinction that is unique (like Leena Nair who became Hindustan Unilever's first woman executive director).
The problem with having a finite number, 25 in this case, for a list such as this makes it particularly tough when it comes to bumping people off it to make room for new entrants. As in the past, however, we relied on eminent industry watchers to arrive at our initial list, which was then short-listed by a panel of our editors and in-house experts.
The cover package is more than just the power list and profiles of those who are on it. As well as giving you a peek into what makes the top 25 tick, we have tried to capture new trends. Divas on Dalal Street (page 106) is on how a growing breed of women executives is making waves on Dalal Street, a traditionally male bastion. Another feature (Daughters in the Sun, page 118) profiles 12 young women, who are moving into their family businesses where they are already making a difference.
A third feature (In No Man's Land, page 112) is about another trend-that of a growing number of women showing a flair for starting up their own ventures. India Inc.'s track record on gender neutrality is far from satisfactory. Even today, women in corporate India's workforce add up to a mere 6 per cent.
Yet, despite that, it is heartening to note that more women are coming into positions of power across different businesses, politics and the social sector.