Stephen Hawking has said that the five most powerful people in Britain are women.
The astrophysicist said that there had been a ‘seismic shift’ in gender equality, but there was still a huge amount of work to be done.
He told Piers Morgan on ITV’s Good Morning Britain that there is still a huge gap in the private sector, but in the public sector there had been huge steps forward.
He said: ‘I welcome these signs of women’s liberation. But there may still be a gap between those women achieving high public status and those in the private sector.
‘It is not scientific proof of gender equality that is required, but general acceptance that women are at least the equals of men, or better.
‘This is coming. If we factor in high-powered women in Europe as well, such as Angela Merkel, it seems we are witnessing a seismic shift for women to accede to high-level positions in politics and society.
‘I have always supported women’s rights. I moved the admission of women to my college, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. The results were wholly good.’
Here are the five women he considered to be the most powerful in the UK:
- The Queen
- Theresa May
- Nicola Sturgeon
- Amber Rudd, Home Secretary
- Cressida Dick, Met Police commissioner
He has also said that he is planning to travel into space on Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
The physicist and cosmologist, 75, said he had not expected to have the opportunity to experience space but that the Virgin boss had offered him a seat.
Discussing the meaning of happiness he said: ‘My three children have brought me great joy. And I can tell you what will make me happy, to travel in space.
‘I thought no one would take me but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic, and I said yes immediately.’
Professor Hawking also shared his views on US President Donald Trump and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during the interview.
The scientist – who previously referred to Mr Trump as a ‘demagogue’ – said he still admires America but fears that he ‘may not be welcome’ there any more.
‘The reaction to the election of Donald Trump may have been overdone, but it represents a definite swing to a right-wing, more authoritarian approach,’ he said.
‘Everyday life in the United States continues much the same. I have many friends and colleagues there, and it is still a place I like and admire in many ways.
‘I would like to visit again and to talk to other scientists but I fear that I may not be welcome.’
Professor Hawking said of Mr Corbyn: ‘I don’t believe there will be much chance of Labour winning an election under him.
‘He doesn’t come across as a strong leader, and he allowed the media to portray him as a left-wing extremist, which he’s not. It’s no good having the right principles if you never get in power.’
But he added: ‘I will continue to vote Labour, it’s the party that matters.’