BBC Woman’s Hour reveals sport-focused Power List 2023

The list features sportswomen, leaders, change-makers, amplifiers and grassroots contributors.
The list features sportswomen, leaders, change-makers, amplifiers and grassroots contributors.

England captain Leah Williamson has topped the BBC Woman’s Hour Power List 2023.

The list recognises 30 women in the UK who have made a “significant impact in the sporting world” and was revealed live on the programme by host Nuala McGovern in front of an audience in the BBC Radio Theatre on Tuesday morning.

Williamson, 25, led the Lionesses to glory at last summer’s Uefa Women’s Euros, as they became the first England football team to win an international tournament since 1966.

England Women Training Session – St. George’s Park – Tuesday 30th August
England’s Leah Williamson with the Women’s Euros trophy (Jacob King/PA)

As an Arsenal defender, she has won a number of major trophies during her career, including the Women’s Super League, the FA Cup and the League Cup twice.

She also champions equal opportunities for girls in sport, the BBC said.

Williamson said: “It’s lovely, I’m just trying to do my job. My mum will be happy. It’s really nice, I’m slightly taken aback by that but very appreciative.”

Asked why the Woman’s Hour Power List is important, she said: “As women we’ve been living in the shadows, maybe, but we know that we have the ability to step up.

“If you can’t see it, you can’t be it, which is why when we do recognise women like this, it’s great because those aspiring to be in these positions can believe that there is a place for them in the sporting world.”

Leah Williamson and Nuala McGovern
England captain Leah Williamson and BBC Woman’s Hour host Nuala McGovern (BBC Woman’s Hour/PA)

Suggestions for the shortlist, which features sportswomen, leaders, change-makers, amplifiers and grassroots contributors, were chosen by the public for the judges to consider.

The judging panel included Olympic hockey player Sam Quek, Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, World Cup-winning cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent and former footballer Jessica Creighton acting as chair.

Second on the list is Baroness Sue Campbell, director of women’s football at the Football Association, where she has championed equality, diversity and access in women’s football, the BBC said.

England Women Training Session – St George’s Park – Tuesday 21st June
Baroness Sue Campbell (Zac Goodwin/PA)

The 74-year-old was made a dame in the 2020 New Year Honours list for her services to sport, recognising more than five decades she has spent influencing policy, as well as co-founding and chairing the Youth Sport Trust.

Alice Dearing, who became the first black woman to swim for Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, is third on the BBC Woman’s Hour Power List.

She is one of the four co-founders of the Black Swimming Association, a non-profit organisation aimed at championing diversity in swimming from grassroots to the elite level.

The 25-year-old’s advocacy for diversity includes FINA’s decision in 2022 to add oversized swimming caps to its approved competitive swimwear list, to accommodate swimmers with thicker or longer hair, following an initial ban.

Tokyo Olympics 2020 – Kitting Out – Birmingham NEC
Alice Dearing (David Davies/PA)

The Woman’s Hour Power List was first launched in 2013 and has celebrated the achievements of British women in different spheres of public life.

Karen Dalziel, editor of BBC Woman’s Hour, said: “The Women in Sport Power List recognises 30 incredible women whose passion, dedication and expertise is transforming the profile and experience of women’s sport.

“We are proud to celebrate the unique qualities and achievements of each of these amazing women as they inspire others and bring about lasting change.”

Other names on the 2023 power list include:

4. Ellie Downie, medal-winning gymnast for Great Britain who has spoken out about abusive behaviour in British Gymnastics

5. Heather Dunnell, founder of the Scottish Women’s Walking Group

6. Helen Hardy, who created the only official retail platform in the world dedicated to women’s football merchandise

7. Lotte Wubben-Moy, Arsenal and England footballer who campaigned for equal access to football for girls in the UK

8. Beth Barrett-Wild, director of the women’s professional game at the England and Wales Cricket Board

9. Sophie Christiansen CBE, eight times Paralympic equestrian gold medallist

10. Dina Asher-Smith, British record holder for 100m sprint