Forbes' ranking of the "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women" (last completed in 2017) runs the gamut of everyone from Oprah Winfrey and Ivanka Trump to Angela Merkel and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg. Ranging in age from 92 (Queen Elizabeth II) to 28 (Taylor Swift), it's clear no two women are the same — but they do share some qualities that helped make them rich, or famous, or both.
One study sought to find out what they all had in common and used IBM's Watson Personality Insights API to examine speeches, interviews, and social media commentary to decipher their personalities. Researchers found the women on the list had traits they labeled the “Big Five” personality traits, which help define how a person engages with the world. The Big Five? Agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, emotional range, and openness.
“Across Forbes' list of the 100 most powerful women in the world, openness was the most common personality trait. Described as ‘the extent to which a person is open to experiencing different activities,’ openness includes a person's imagination, artistic interests, and overall intellectual curiosity,” the study explained. “Across all 100 women, two were particularly inclined toward this trait: Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief at The Economist, and Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm at Disney.”
Emotional range and conscientiousness were also the most prevailing “Big Five" traits, and women like Safra Catz (the co-CEO of Oracle) and Nikki Haley (the Indian-American former ambassador to the United Nations) exhibited both.
Beyoncé, Anna Wintour, and Oprah Winfrey were found to use compassion and cooperation to their advantage.
Intellect, liberalism, sympathy, cautiousness, and activity level were among the most widely held traits by women like Hillary Clinton, Drew Gilpin Faust (president at Harvard), and Mary Callahan Erdoes (CEO at JPMorgan). Anger, excitement-seeking, and immoderation were among the least common personality traits.
Intellect, liberalism, and activity level were all common traits found in Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Susan Wojcicki (YouTube), Ginni Rometty (IBM), and Meg Whitman (formerly of eBay).
Sympathy, intellect, and liberalism topped the list among women in politics, including Germany's Angela Merkel and the U.K.'s Theresa May.
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