38 of TIME's 100 Most Influential People Are Women. How Many of Them Are Mothers?

time 100, 100 most influential people, world's most influential women, working mothers, world's most powerful women

How many mothers are there in the TIME 100?

I learned a lot clicking through TIME’s 2012 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, available on newsstands today in the first ever perfect-bound edition of the magazine. The ninth annual list includes 54 international figures from 37 countries, more than any previous TIME 100. Additionally, there are 38 women on the 2012 TIME 100, more than ever before. There are individuals of every political affiliation and possible profession on the list, from civil rights advocates to comedians like Chelsea Handler, Louis CK and Stephen Colbert. (The list isn’t presented in any particular order of influence, but Colbert’s profile does appear last, in the “number one” slot.)

In examining the lives of the women on the list, I discovered, perhaps unsurprisingly, that several of the most influential women in the world are childless, seemingly by choice. I wondered accordingly if perhaps it was easier for women to rise to positions of power without the burden of having to raise kids. Take Virginia M. Rometty, named to the list as a result of her role as CEO at IBM, who has no children and “a husband with the time and flexibility to support her career,” according to this profile of her in The New York Times, which also states that of the 29 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, 27 are married but only 18 of them have children. “While impressive, that’s a far lower rate than the 87 percent of married women in the population at large who have children of their own,” the Times reports.

While researching Madam Chen Lihua – one of China’s female billionaires - I learned that several of the world’s female self-made billionaires are Chinese. The Financial Times attributes that to the fact that “Working mothers in China are able to aim high, in part because they have more shoulders to lean on than their American and European peers when it comes to childcare.” (They also work an average of 71 hours a week. Yikes.) Madam Lihua, however, appears not to have had any children.

A few of the women in this year’s TIME 100 are not mothers in the traditional sense, but have dedicated their lives to working with children, like India’s Anjali Gopalan, who raises orphans at Naz, her South Delhi-based orphanage for children living with AIDS. But how many of the 38 most influential women in the world actually have children? Only 12. They are:

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  • Viola Davis 1 of 12
    Viola Davis
    Viola Davis is a Tony Award-winning actress who has appeared on Broadway in King Hedley II and Fences. She's appeared in the feature films Traffic, Antwone Fisher and Solaris and is best known for her Academy Award-nominated appearances in the films Doubt and The Help. Davis trained at Juilliard and is a mother of three, to one adopted daughter who she is raising with her husband Julius Tennon, and his two sons.
  • Manal al-Sharif 2 of 12
    Manal al-Sharif
    Manal al-Sharif, a 32-year-old mother of two, has become the face of the movement encouraging women in Saudi Arabia to drive. Saudi women are barred from driving, so as TIME notes, "even picking up the dry cleaning is considered subversive." al-Sharif was jailed for nine days last Spring after posting a video on YouTube of herself driving.
  • Cami Anderson 3 of 12
    Cami Anderson
    Cami Anderson, 40, is the Superintendent of Schools in Newark, New Jersey. Mayor Cory Booker describes her as a "modern-day freedom fighter, investing her life's work in the educational trenches and working to liberate our country from the destructive delusion that children can't achieve at the highest levels just because they were born into tough circumstances." Anderson has a 2-year-old son with her domestic partner Jared Robinson.
  • Sheryl Sandberg 4 of 12
    Sheryl Sandberg
    Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of a little website called Facebook. So she's pretty much your best friend you've never met. Sandberg, 42, is described by Muhtar Kent as "a devoted, hands-on mother of two," who, according to CNN, leaves the office every day at 5:30 on the dot so she can spend time with her kids.
  • Sara Blakely 5 of 12
    Sara Blakely
    Sara Blakely invented Spanx, so you should definitely count her up there with Sheryl Sandberg in the BFFs you've never met department. Blakely is also the world's youngest self-made billionaire at just 41 years old. She started her company with only $5,000. Now that's resourcefulness! Blakely is the mother of a 3-year-old boy, Lazer Blake Itzler.
  • Fatou Bensouda 6 of 12
    Fatou Bensouda
    Fatou Bensouda "will take office as chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on June 16," TIME reports. Among those accused by the court are Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif and Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony. Bensouda is the the first African woman to assume the top job at an international tribunal. She is a native of Gambia and is the mother of two children.
  • Christine Lagarde 7 of 12
    Christine Lagarde
    Christine Lagarde is the first woman to serve in her current role as managing director of the International Monetary Fund. She also served as France's Finance Minister during the global financial crisis, and may run to be the first female president of France. Lagarde, 56, is divorced and is the mother of two sons.
  • Maria das Graças Silva Foster 8 of 12
    Maria das Graças Silva Foster
    Maria das Graças Silva Foster is the new CEO of Brazil's Petrobras and the first woman to run a major oil-and-gas company. Foster, 58, is married and has two children.
  • Dilma Rousseff 9 of 12
    Dilma Rousseff
    Dilma Rousseff, the President of Brazil, is a friend of Maria das Graças Silva Foster and a woman ready to tackle the "challenges faced by women as they try to grow in a space dominated by men," according to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the President of Argentina. Rousseff has a daughter, Paula.
  • Cecile Richards 10 of 12
    Cecile Richards
    If you're like me, you feel like you somehow know Cecile Richards, since you get emails from her all the time. Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood, the daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards and a mother of three living in New York City.
  • Tilda Swinton 11 of 12
    Tilda Swinton
    Tilda Swinton is 51 years old, though her face seems ageless, her look timeless. She is an Academy Award-winning actress for her role in Michael Clayton, and she's appeared in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Burn After Reading, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Deep End and We Need to Talk About Kevin, a film about a fictional school massacre. In real life, Swinton is the mother of twins.
  • Hillary Clinton 12 of 12
    Hillary Clinton
    Hillary Clinton is the US Secretary of State, a former first lady and the mother of daughter Chelsea. Though she lost her presidential bid to Barack Obama in 2008, a Politico poll shows her as being the top Democratic candidate for 2016. Maybe the US will join Argentina and Brazil in having a female president finally!

All images via TIME

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