Who is the most influential person in history? Margaret Thatcher's death doesn't stop her being voted most influentital woman of last 200 years, beating Princess DIana and Oprah Winfrey

Lynsey Barber
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Thatcher wins again (Source: Getty)

Margaret Thatcher has managed to win over more voters two years after her death, having been voted the most influential woman of the past 200 years.

The UK's first and only female Prime Minister has made more of an impression than Queen Elizabeth, Mother Theresa and Oprah Winfrey, among others, thanks to her status as a "game changer".

More than half of the 2,000 people surveyed by Scottish Widows chose Margaret Thatcher as the most influential woman in politics, ahead of the Queen, Princess Diana, Angela Merkel and Queen Victoria.

“Margaret Thatcher has directly affected the lives of everyone voting, and the older generations will be especially aware of this. It’s interesting, as she was no especial friend to women. It’s possible her influence is seen as the greater because what she pursued did not have a female angle,” said historian and author Suzannah Lipscomb.

Top 10 most influential women

1. Margaret Thatcher 

2. Marie Curie

3. Queen Elizabeth II

4. Diana, Princess of Wales

5. Emmeline Pankhurst

6. Mother Teresa

7. Florence Nightingale

8. Queen Victoria

9. Rosa Parks

10. Oprah Winfrey

There was a north south divide in Thatcher's popularity, however. Those in the south east and London were most likely to vote for her - 42 per cent and 49 per cent respectively, compared with 36 per cent in the north, 34 per cent in Wales and just 16 per cent in Scotland.

Compassion is the determining factor of influence, according to those over 65, while younger generations say it's ambition.

“The difference between older generations choosing compassion and younger generations choosing ambition is a fascinating and instructive insight into what those setting out in life thinks makes someone influential, and what those with more life experience knows is crucial," said Lipscomb.

“It suggests that we learn with age that seeking the best for others rather than ambition for self-glorification is the route to real influence.”

Read more: Here's at what age you are most influential

The research also found a gender divide between the traits people valued. For men, it's politicians who rated more highly while women found "fashion mavens" carried the most cachet.

Women are more likely to say demonstrating strong principles and values makes a woman more influential, as does being strong willed and driven. Men on the other hand said charisma and talent make them influential.

“The difference that exists between men and women over what makes a women influential is interesting – it suggests that women believe influence comes from a woman's internal values and drive – i.e. from decisions that they can make about how to be, rather than from characteristics they possess – and men emphasise the opposite.”

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