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Who are the 'most powerful moms' of 2011? Add to ...

What do Michelle Obama, Melinda Gates, Ann Curry, Kim Clijsters and Vera Wang have in common?

They’ve all made the shortlist for “ most powerful moms of 2011,” according to Working Mother, a company with a mission “to serve as a champion of culture change.”

From lawmakers to tennis stars, the women selected are American, have at least one kid under 18 and “are major power players whose accomplishments are also societal contributions,” reads the company release.

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And it’s a tall order: “Working Mother is committed to naming working mothers who have risen to the tops of their careers, act as role models and mentors, focus on issues that affect large numbers of people, stand for the advancement of women and promote work life balance,” Leah Borne writes in an article.

The site has lists for most powerful moms working in finance, non-profits, social media and TV, among other categories.

Now it’s up to readers to vote on a winner – last year’s was Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. But is the power list – a kind of modern-day beauty pageant – a useful exercise for everyday working women?

Tina Fey, who’s in the running, slammed the pesky “How do you juggle it all” question in the New Yorker as the rudest thing anyone could ask a mother.

She recounted how her daughter picked out a book from the library called My Working Mom, which featured a witch mother flying around to meetings on her broom. When she asked her daughter, “Did you pick this book because your mommy works? Did it make you feel better about it?” the child replied, “Mommy, I can’t read. I thought it was a Halloween book.”

And despite a cultural obsession with Ms. Fey’s supposed mastery of the elusive work-life balance, the comedian has confessed to “ triannual torrential sobbing” in her office.

Is the current list inspiring? Or is it grating for working women who may not have a small army of household support staff – or the full story – at their disposal?

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