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The search begins:
There it was, the third tweet in a month ”Top 20 women to follow on twitter” ! Yet another list from the western Hemisphere. Where is the list from Asia I thought ? After all this is the Asian century. It can hardly be a true Asian century without highlighting the thought leadership from the region.
Given my corporate leanings, and the interest in women and leadership, I decided to start there. So I sent out a tweet:
“Searching for the Sheryl Sandbergs of Asia. Give me a name and reason”
The search lasted many weeks, tweeted and retweeted, reached Japan, China, India and US. Many liked my question, encouraged my efforts but no one knew of such a list.
In Asia my network is largely in India so that is where I got most responses from. The majority of the names were journalists and actors. Social media folks followed close. However, this list was not diverse enough and I searched some more.
By now I had moved past my interest in women leaders just from corporate India. Now it became about highlighting all women who represented a niche. Not about Klout scores, not about followers, not about time spent on twitter. So it became:
“Searching for the #top25 Indian women to follow on twitter. Leaders of their niche, not just celebs and media folks”
I searched so long that the question may have faded from the memory of many who supported and encouraged this search. I raided twitter follower lists of famous people, tried popular twitter tools and tried to include as many unique niches as I could.
Today I send this list out and dedicate it to all women thought leaders from Asia, not just from media and film, not just the corporate world but all the ones that are making a difference in their own way.
Who do we have here:
I have tried to include a cross section of women (currently based in India) and so you will find in this list women who are: TED fellows,Rural health care delivery specialists, Food critics, Political Scientists, Award winning costume designer, NGO leaders, Marketing gurus, Entrepreneurs, Ethnographers, Career coaches, HR professionals, CEOs, Photographers, Sports personalities, Cartoonists, Doctors, Travel writers, Human rights activists, Nutritionist and of course the journalists and the actors.
Who cares and why bother ?
Such lists are important for India and for women. They highlight our thought leadership, our tribes and our contributions. It enables us to have truly global networks and conversations. They provide role models and support systems.
They also are a means of claiming our space on social media in general and twitter in particular. As NY Times notes in the blog “New Media’s old problems”:
When it comes to digital punditry, women appear to have less influence. Foreign Policy magazine, which is run by a woman, included a paltry 12 women in its list last week of 100 people worth following on Twitter. n response, a group of Twitter users created a separate list of only women that was subsequently posted on Foreign Policy’s Web site, but the point had been made: in the eyes of the magazine, women in foreign policy matter less – at least on Twitter.
Each woman on this list has the capability to connect you to her world, and to many other men and women who may not be on twitter but are changing the world in their own way.
Take it to the next level
I hope this list will inspire many more lists. How about 30 under 30 Indians changing the world on twitter, the Indian NGO corner on twitter, blogger moms and dads from India on twitter. The sky is the limit.
You will also notice that my list of 50 women actually has 51 names and that is because 51 is an auspicious number in India. Also because I hope this list will grow beyond the initial expectations set for it. 51 women today can start 51000 conversations, connections and communities.
Also because it symbolizes the incompleteness of this list. I am sure to have missed out some fantastic women out there and that extra one stands for the one I missed out ! Also this is not a ‘top’ 50 list and nor is this about who got included or left out. . A mostly crowdsourced list is never complete, nor ever perfect. But then this is not about all that. It is about making a start somewhere, anywhere. From no list to a list of 51
Please tweet this list out and let us see how far it travels around the world. Follow, recommend and talk to the women on this list and tell them you found them here ! Keep me posted #50women and on @tanvi_gautam
Also please leave a comment because I am writing an article on the journey of this tweet to be published soon. Would love to know your thoughts on this list and search !
And lest you thought I forgot the link:
Thanks for reading!