Who run the world? The influential women putting Manchester on the map right now


Manchester women have a formidable reputation for smashing glass ceilings and changing the course of history.

Our city has been home to the likes of Elizabeth Gaskell, Emmeline Pankhurst and Marie Stopes – and yet, we were surprised to discover in December last year that out of 16 statues in the city centre only one was a woman. Yes, we’re talking about Queen Victoria.

We now have two – having marked a centenary of female suffrage with a new statue of legendary first-wave feminist Emmeline Pankhurst, at the end of last year.

Recently plans were also announced to put up a statue of comedian Victoria Wood in Bury – but it appears, even in statue terms, there’s still some way to go towards achieving true equality.

In honour of International Women’s Day, we’ve put together a list (in no particular order) of inspiring women who are continuing to crash their way through the glass ceiling and reshape the world as we know it.


22 year old rapper-singer Diana Debrito fuses trap, jazz and hip-hop. Recently profiled in Forbes, she launched into the mainstream in 2018 after the release of her single ‘Shade’ went viral at the end of 2017. Named BBC Sound’s Unsigned act of 2018 and Gilles Peterson’s Breakthrough Act of 2018; more recently she has expanded into fashion – appearing in campaigns for Ivy Park, Mulberry and Miu Miu. She’s currently working on her own fashion line, called Waev.

Angela Rayner

Elected as Labour MP for Ashton-Under-Lyme in 2015, Angela has served as Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education since 1 July 2016. A vocal member of the opposition front bench, Angela has served in Mr Corbyn’s top team since he became Labour leader in 2015 and has championed increasing funding to schools and ending the free market in education.

Karina Jadhav

Founder and MD of Menagerie restaurant, Karina certainly wields some power in the hospitality world. Previously she opened Spinningfields venue Neighbourhood with her ex-husband, but after the pair split she went out on her own – and dare we say, created something even better.

Carol Ann Duffy

Not only the first woman to hold the post of poet laureate in the UK, but also the first openly LGBT and Scottish person to be chosen; Carol is a legendary wordsmith and also teaches the next generation of blossoming writers in her position as professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metroplitan University.

Dr Jessicarr Moorhouse

TRIBE founder Dr Jessicarr Moorhouse has made some serious waves in the health and fitness world this past year. An NHS doctor and qualified personal trainer with a background in physiotherapy; through a combination of events, group, and personal training sessions she promotes a holistic attitude to health and wellness – factoring in often-overlooked mental and social benefits.

Meme Gold


Not content with being a Manchester fashion mogul alone; Meme also hosts a monthly radio show on NTS every first Saturday of the month, as well as popping up on decks around Manchester for the likes of Reform and Unity radio stations. You can also occasionally find her doing a spot of theme dancing for the likes of Albert Schloss.

DJ Paulette

A familiar face around Manchester’s bars and nightclubs, DJ Paulette is an icon of Manchester’s dance music scene with a bag full of everything from disco to techno and back. An original hacienda resident, nowadays you’ll find her DJing for the likes of la Discotheque and Homoelectric and hosting radio shows for FG DJ Radio and Pacha FM. As of 14th March, you can also catch her brand new monthly show #PauletteTakeover on Reform Radio 3-5pm.

Emily Oldfield

Editor at Haunt MCR, poet, singer, mental health activist, music reviewer for Louder Than War and co-curator of Foundations Festival, Emily Oldfield is a prolific creator and champion of all things weird and wonderful in Manchester.

Mary Ellen McTague

The Manchester chef behind Chorlton sensation The Creameries, McTague previously has headed up city centre restaurants Aumbry, 4244, The Manchester Gallery Cafe and The Real Junk Food project. Having worked in Michelin-starred kitchens such as Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck – she certainly knows her stuff, and is a leading light on Manchester’s foodie scene.

Risha Lancaster

Risha co-founded Manchester homelessness charity Coffee4Craig in memory of her brother Craig, who sadly died at 37 from a heroin overdose following a battle with mental health issues, addiction and homelessness. Today Risha is instrumental in helping Manchester’s homeless population – providing clothes, food and shelter to some of our city’s most vulnerable residents.

Carol Kane

Debuting on the Sunday Times rich list in 2017, Carol Kane remains at the helm of fast fashion e-tailer Boohoo – which she co-founded in 2006 with Mahmud Kamani. She also runs boohooMAN.com, PrettyLittleThing.com, and NastyGal.com.

Fiona Devine

Head of Allicane Manchester Business School and Professor of Sociology at The University of Manchester, Fiona Devine was awarded an OBE for services to social sciences in 2010 and has spent her career championing research into the related fields os social stratification and mobility.

Gemma Gore

Director at We Are Indigo and We Are Family, Gemma’s PR and events company represent some of the most respected UK and international hospitality leaders and renowned brands worldwide. In Manchester alone, she looks after a wealth of businesses including the Principal hotel, The Ivy, Alabamas, The Liars Group and The Refuge – and helps throw some of the most fabulous parties in Manchester.

Dianne Bourne

Nuffield Health Printworks

Previously the face of showbiz at the Manchester Evening News, Dianne has been working and partying around Manchester for the best part of 20 years. Still at the top of her game, she is now our Contributing Editor and covers all things showbiz, food, drink, arts, culture and events.

Sarah Frankcom

Photograph by Johan Persson

English theatre director Sarah Frankcom has held the position of Artistic Director at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre since 2008 – playing an instrumental role in creating its reputation as one of the most innovative creative spaces in the country. It may have just been announced that she’s leaving to become director of LAMDA drama school, but she’s been a huge influence in Manchester nonetheless.

Christine Cort

As MD of Manchester International Festival, Christine Cort has been instrumental in continuing Manchester’s global reputation as a cultural hub for the arts. The ex-Time Out Marketing Director has been at the helm since the festival’s inception and played a huge part in bringing the festival’s ‘anything is possible’ mantra to life.

Julie Hesmondhalgh

Julie is an actress known for her role as Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street and won loads of awards including Best Serial Drama Performance at the 2014 National Television Awards and Best Actress at the 2014 British Soap Awards. She’s now co-founder of Take Back Theatre and continues to champion theatre.

Laura Smart

After 20 years with KPMG, Laura Smart was last year appointed tax director at KPMG. Managing a diverse team she helps to give family businesses, private equity backed businesses and fast-growing innovative businesses in Manchester and further afield access to the finance they need to continue their growth.

Caroline Stevenson

Foodinate founder Caroline Stevenson has been instrumental in tackling food poverty across the UK. Her social enterprise brings together diners, bars, restaurants and charities and works on a simple policy – whenever you buy a meal marked with the foodinate icon, the partnering venue will gift a meal to a local person in need. Combining her business acumen with her background in psychology, Caroline is using her entrepreneurial spirit to make the world a better place – something we really admire.

Sally Penni

Barrister Sally Penni is the founder and chair of women in the law UK. Addressing huge gender pay gaps in industries and the fact that both boards and courts don’t always represent the diversity of our society, she understands that whilst women have the right to vote and to education – there’s still a way to go to achieving true equality. Pankhurst would definitely approve.

Maxine Peake

Maxine’s heartfelt socialism combined with her incredible range as an actor has not just made her beloved here in Manchester but also put her at the forefront of British acting. Alongside her hugely successful acting career, in recent years Maxine has become a prominent activist too – speaking at the Peterloo Memorial march and the anti-Tory protest, calling for a coup in the Guardian and turning out for Oldham’s unveiling of the Emmeline Pankhurst statue.


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