It's 2017. Why Aren't There More Female Billionaires?

By on January 28, 2017 in ArticlesBillionaire News

Seriously! There are 1,810 billionaires in the world and only 167 of them are women. It is 2017, women have been in the workforce for decades. Women are CEOs and Chairwomen of the Board. They've founded successful companies, and yet only a small fraction of them have achieved the elusive 10 figure net worth. What's up with that?

Even worse, research and trends show that progress for women hoping to climb to the highest rung on the corporate ladder is slowing. Basically, after making big strides in the 1980s and 90s, the number of women cracking the glass ceiling of the 1% of earners has slowed.

Women are just 16% of the 1% – of people who earn $390,000 or more. That number has remained basically unchanged over the past decade. Even worse, of the top 0.1%, women account for just 11%. To be considered the top 0.1%, income must be $1.32 million or more. The higher up you go in income, the lower the number of women there are.

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The millionaire and billionaire club is still predominantly male. The female billionaire population is only growing half as fast as the male billionaire population. Across the globe, the number of women worth $30 million or more decreased last year, while the number of men worth that, or more, increased.

For every Sara Blakely and Oprah Winfrey, there are way more Travis Kalanicks, Joe Gebbias, Mark Zuckermans, Evan Spiegels, Peter Thiels, Marc Benioffs, and so on and so on and so on….you get my point.

Women are still cracking the glass (or diamond) ceiling, especially in the United States, just not in big numbers. In 2000, there were 11 female billionaires in the world. Today, there are 167. At the current pace, it will take about 100 years for an equal number of women as men in the billionaire population.

Sadly, without wealth inherited from family or spouses, the number of females in the billionaires club is even smaller. Of the 167 billionaires that are women, just 49 are self-made. The wealthiest self-made woman in the U.S. at the moment is ABC Supply founder Diane Hendricks, who has a net worth of $4.9 billion. Oprah Winfrey is the second wealthiest woman with a net worth of $3.2 billion.

Why are there so few women at the top of the lists of the wealthiest people in the world? The answer is not as simple as you might think. Sure, inherent bias against women plays a part, but it isn't a large part. There are a lot of factors, but in terms of the recent explosion of billionaires in technology let's look at math and science. Programs that entice young women to get more involved in STEM– science, technology, engineering and mathematics­–would likely increase the number of female billionaires in the decades to come.

What do you think?

Articles Written by Amy Lamare
Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer covering business, technology, entertainment, philanthropy, and pop culture. She spent 8 1/2 years covering the entertainment industry for www.hsx.com. She attended the University of Southern California where she majored in Creative Writing. An avid long distance runner, weekends she can be found running the streets of Los Angeles training for 1/2 and full marathons. Follow her on Facebook.
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