Women Lead List of Most Powerful Celebrities

Oprah came in at No. 1 on the 'Forbes' annual ranking

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Dimitrios Kambouris / WireImage via Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey attends the 3rd annual Diane Von Furstenberg awards at the United Nations on March 9, 2012, in New York City

This morning, Forbes released their annual list of the 100 most powerful celebrities in the world—and though the cast of the top 10 features unsurprisingly big names, there are two observations worth mentioning.

One is Oprah Winfrey. Oprah has been a power-list pro, but her venture into running her own cable network (OWN) has been a bit of a rough road. Forbes estimates that she made $77 million between June 2012 and June 2013 — an impressive sum, but still $88 million less than she earned over the previous 12 months. Not that there aren’t bright spots: just this week, the network announced that they would double their 16-episode order of Tyler Perry’s The Have And The Have Nots, OWN’s first scripted drama, after it drew the network’s biggest debut ratings in its history.

(MORE: Oprah Expert on How Winfrey’s Brand Changed America)

The other noteworthy takeway is the gender breakdown of the top power-players. Here’s the full top 10:

  1. Oprah Winfrey
  2. Lady Gaga
  3. Steven Spielberg
  4. Beyoncé Knowles
  5. Madonna
  6. Taylor Swift
  7. Bon Jovi
  8. Roger Federer
  9. Justin Bieber
  10. Ellen DeGeneres

That’s 60% female — and 80% of the top 5. This breakdown is actually a bit more male-dominated than last year’s list, which featured Jennifer Lopez (1), Oprah Winfrey (2), Rihanna (4), Lady Gaga (5), Britney Spears (6), Kim Kardashian (7) and Katy Perry (8). The 2011 list, by contrast, featured just three women in those elite spots.

And while this year’s list reflects no major leap for gender equality it’s still noteworthy, because Forbes changed the way they calculate the ramkings. The Forbes Power equation takes into account earnings, frequency of media mentions, social-media strength and marketability, based on polling. It’s a new methodology, aiming to rank real fame and discount metrics (like magazine-cover numbers) that tend to help reality-television stars and gossip-friendly personalities. This year, they’ve also expanded the social-media ranking beyond just Facebook and Twitter, to YouTube and elsewhere. That’s how folks like, well, most of the women in last year’s top 10, fell from their spots, ceding space to celebs like Beyoncé and Madonna.

The new formula seems to have worked: one would be hard pressed to argue that Beyoncé is not more powerful than Kim Kardashian, even if she doesn’t generate as much gossip. It seems that no matter how you define fame, women have it.

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