Who Runs The World…Girls!

Culture Liverpool
7 min readJun 13, 2022


Female Forum at Liverpool Central Library

Women and power, are three words that when put together conjure such an array of extreme images and connotations. On the one hand, it’s inspiring, motivating and empowering as the rallying cries of ‘votes for women’ seem less a request, demanding equality to more of a statement of actual fact. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, of those who refer to (rightly outdated and sexist) commentary that a woman’s place is not in a position of power as our delicate brains can’t cope with such difficult and heavy work as is associated with being in power.

So what exactly is power? On a balmy summer evening in June, this is the question put forward at the second Female Forum in Liverpool’s Central Library. As we sat gathered in the spectacular surroundings of the Hornby Room (a must-visit), the room was filled with females of diverse ages, backgrounds, experiences, ethnicity and, dare I say it, power!

Taking a topic of discussion and focusing it on females and power, it was not lost on me the power of this very topic, being discussed by all these women in a room designed by a man in the early 19th Century (the astutely named Cornelius Sherlock should you wish to look him up). If only walls could talk, what would they say of the discussions taking place today? At the time of the Hornby Room’s construction, it wasn’t viewed that a female could have power, we couldn’t handle it, or if we did have power then we were deemed abnormal. Just think, throughout generations of women in society however you contextualise power, society has been quick to remove it. Is a woman too rich? Is she too thin? Is she too sexualised? Is she even, a witch and to be burned at the stake? For centuries, women have been disarmed, we are told to love, honour and obey and our role historically, was to be seen as meek, faithful caregivers too sensitive for the atrocities and difficulties of daily life. Intrinsically, the language and culture that has developed, has itself destroyed and stopped the ability of women to become accomplished and powerful, arguably.

Why do men have power? Is power viewed differently in men than in women? How is power viewed? All questions which arose out of the core focus — what is power? Listening to my fellow Female Forum members I was struck by their ideas of power; “knowledge is power” and “success is power” were two core statements that struck a chord with this historic view of power in women. The very language, the idea of what this represented seemed to favour males — success and knowledge — to be successful you’d need strong communication, emotional intelligence and great leadership skills and knowledge was achieved through learning and experience gained through employment — all opportunities afforded to men throughout history and not women or girls.

So by its very definition, power was already being described as a male-dominated trait and then the idea arose that power, means influence.

The power of the influencer

The role of the social media influencer is something which would baffle, astound and, technically speaking alone, confuse the likes of iconic female influencers throughout history. Today, in generations who have only known social media, the internet and mobile phones (who will never appreciate the joy of turning the dial on an ‘old fashioned’ telephone in my opinion) power is attained by the number of followers you have, the likes your content generates and/or the brands that pay to be seen with you. And this, as one attendee explained, can be dangerous. For is this real power? In contemporary society, yes, it is a form of power, the role of the influencer in social media is a modern-day phenomenon which has created an industry worth billions of pounds, instantly made careers and household names of children, adults and characters alike each holding power of their adoring fans and followers with iconic, often celebrity-like appeal. This power, though often fleeting, is power nonetheless and is characterised by the traditional ideas of “success” if not necessarily, a conventional idea of “knowledge.”

Is this a fault of the twenty-first century? Is this even a fault? The power of the influencer? For many they are inspirational role models providing a platform for others to feel empowered so should this be something we criticise? Would we criticise Emily Pankhurst if she had a voice today on social media? Or would followers be tracking Amelia Airheart on Google Maps for live updates of her journey inspiring the pilots of tomorrow? As one, albeit male comic hero once stated, “with great power, comes great responsibility” and power in the hands of the wrong people can become dangerous.

So power, whether it’s owned by males or females, needs to be respected and, according to the Female Forum, it needs to be shared. An interesting angle and one which highlights again the role of women in making these important strides to bringing power to the forefront of female kind. As women had no role in history, save for the legends who have fought to mark the her-story books with their stories, we are a forgotten people as it were and when we have been referenced it’s because of our ‘sympathetic’ qualities of compassion, caring and thoughtfulness traditionally qualities which made us the meek and weak among society. However, it is these qualities which, arguably, make us more powerful!

Listening to the ladies discuss their thoughts I was intrigued by the idea that vulnerability is important in leadership and that leadership is a form of power and I can’t help but think these ‘female’ qualities provide such excellent leadership qualities. That is not to say that all women are thoughtful, compassionate and kind and not all men are not (don’t @ me, it’s not an all-gender statement!) but based on historic traits and perceptions it does give me pause for thought. Is it different for a woman to be in a position of power over a man? Do women have to prove themselves more than a man? As one attendee explained, she thought she’s have to take up golf in order to progress in the workplace as all the decisions were made on the golf course…it does make me think, is power viewed differently still? When one example was given of a forum on female menopause being led purely by men in a recent news item I couldn’t help but stifle a shocked giggle! When women ‘allegedly’ represent so many of the qualities essential in leadership and power then why aren’t we viewed as the ideal candidates for powerful roles? This brings us back to the initial thoughts at the start, that such an idea is just an idea, as language itself and history show, women are so often put in their place and it isn’t making decisions on the golf course.

I’d like to think times have changed, and the discussion around the room embraced the power of females today highlighting the advances of women in our incredible strides towards independence, equality and opportunity. An analogy by one attendee highlighted a candle as representative of power; that power is being able to share and bring on the development of others around you just like the light of one candle can light others around it and this is something I personally will live with. To bring on the development of others, a collaborative, empathetic and communicative individual makes a good leader, a good influencer, and a good powerful role model. A people person, someone who can engender trust, belief and a following whether it be virtual or real-world focused is a powerful individual — whether female or male.

So, this raises the question, if you think about it, if it is to be powerful is to be knowledgable, to be successful — how do we get there? For to achieve these things is to fully utilise the sum of all the individual parts — to learn, develop knowledge and skills, gain life experience and share our personalities, be our authentic selves and be cherished for the things that make us who we are — this is not a male or female trait, it’s not something which is or should be allocated to any traditional gender trait rather it is a human trait, regardless of stereotypical gender roles and personalities.

So if power is genderless, if it is to transcend all the ways in which we identify, is it possible for females today to hold power without acknowledgement of their gender? Whether it’s in the classroom, the boardroom, sports arena, stage or field — wherever she chooses to stand, sit, sing or dance — can a female be powerful and recognised as such without being dismissed? Without being called out for her confidence, her assertiveness or her attitude? Can a female be recognised as her authentic powerful sense without being laughed at, dismissed or put down by someone’s attitude towards “power” which is so antiquated and sexist that it too belongs in the dark ages of the men’s only club?

Judging by the power of the Female Forum, I say yes. The power radiating from the women in the room, the enthusiasm, belief and success are like an adrenaline drip of positivity which should be prescribed to one and all! These women are not constrained by language nor disillusioned by an outdated societal view that women should act, dress and speak in a certain way to attain power. Rather they are here, transforming, leading the way in what it means to be powerful. Women at the top of their careers in both private and public sectors, ladies leading the way in the creative industries and astounding women who are mothers, daughters, sisters and allies supporting one another to develop and be their true powerful, authentic selves.

So while we are not ‘bimbos’, ‘skirt’ and ‘floozy’ we are also not a business card, we are not our clothing, we are not our titles or our size. We are instead strong, we are passionate, we are encouraging, we are supportive, we are leaders and most of all, we are Power.

Jennifer Caine, Marketing Manager, Culture Liverpool



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