Ivanka Trump’s Inclusion on Forbes ‘100 Most Powerful Women’ List Conflates Visibility With Influence
While 2018 was dubbed the Year of the Woman in politics, culture, and at home, Forbes has released its list of the most influential women in the world. In a list full of CEOs, world leaders, and change-makers, the 24th slot features presidential adviser and First Daughter Ivanka Trump — and it seems like the magazine isn’t even sure why the scandal-embroiled Washington insider is there.
“The 2018 World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list celebrates the icons, innovators and instigators who are using their voice to change power structures and create a lasting impact,” Forbes writes in its introduction to the list of iconic women. It includes political powerhouses like Germany’s head of state Angela Merkel and British Prime Minster Teresa May, as well as business moguls like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Melinda Gates, and long-running pop moguls like Priyanka Chopra and Beyoncé.
While Gates is touted for her philanthropic work in her sixth-place spot, and Merkel’s position as the most powerful leader in Europe (and possibly, the world) is championed in her number one spot, Trump’s bio gives her props for focusing on crafting policy at the White House in an unprecedented role as first daughter and adviser. But its rationale is framed in somewhat contradictory terms; while the piece mentions that the younger Trump stood in for her father at the G20 Summit earlier this month, it does so in the context of the backlash she faces over her use of a personal email account while working in the White House.
That’s not to say that Trump hasn’t been something of a voice of reason within the White House, which the Forbes bio does fleetingly acknowledge. She’s tried to bring women’s issues to the fore by working to create a better childcare plan, actively rallied against her father’s wishes to enact a damaging anti-LGBTQ+ law, and has said she doesn’t always agree with her father’s point of view.
Trump’s placement on the list sandwiches her between Queen Elizabeth II, and Phebe Novakovic, a powerhouse CEO in the military sector. While the women before and after the famous first daughter have a laundry list of accolades, Forbes states that it’s “unclear how her influence in the oval office plays out” at the White House.
But it is clear how impactful Trump is as her father’s adviser, which is: not much. Regardless of the younger Trump’s politics, it’s clear that the elder Trump will continue to act in his own interest, advancing a nationalist agenda that will have long term socio-economic and environmental impacts.
Ivanka Trump doesn’t actually hold substantial power in the White House — what she is, for certain, is power-adjacent. Touting her as one of the world’s most influential women when her policy work has yet to actually be taken into account by her father’s cabinet is surprising. Her placement on the list seems like a public relations move as opposed to an interesting addition to a list of women creating real change and influence.
And with so many newly unfolding scandals facing her family and the entire administration, any influence Trump may have — real or adjacent — could look very different in 2019.
(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)