Since its inception in 2004, Time magazine's annual list of the 100 biggest influencers has been a source of debate and countless think pieces. One factor that routinely receives scrutiny is how many women make Time's 100 Most Influential People list each year. In a perfect world, it would hover right around 50, given that that would proportionally reflect the reality of the male to female population breakdown. But that is not the case in 2017, as this year's list includes 40 women to 60 men, one less than Time's 2014 "record" number of women featured.
As is the case with how they choose their Person of the Year, Time does not make judgment calls based on whether a person's influence is positive or negative. In explaining how Time picks its top 100, Nancy Gibbs acknowledges that "there are several people on the list whose influence is the subject of heated debate, from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to FBI Director James Comey to White House adviser Stephen Bannon." Notably, those are all men.
Time breaks down the list into five categories: Pioneers, Artists, Leaders, Titans, and Icons. In two of those categories — Icons and Pioneers — women outnumber men, making up 60 percent and 52 percent, respectively.
But in the other categories, men outnumber women, sometimes by quite a lot. The starkest contrast is in the Leaders category, where just four women are featured alongside 20 men, a disappointing 20 percent of the total represented. In the Titans category, women make up 29 percent. Men and women are roughly tied in the Artist category, with eight women and nine men.
One can fault Time for never achieving equity in this regard, though it's also fair to point out that some of the disparities can be explained by worldwide gender inequality. Thirteen of the 24 individuals featured in the Leaders category are international figures, and only one of them a woman (U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May). When the leaders of North Korea, Turkey, Russia, India, and China are all male, the facts are what they are. Of course, President Trump is also male, along with his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and chief strategist, Steve Bannon, both of whom are also on the Leaders board.
Still, one wonders how much time must pass before Time decides to feature an equal number of female and male influencers.