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Number of Self-Made Female Billionaires on the Rise

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In 2011, I wrote a blog titled “World Woefully Lacking in Female Self-Made Billionaires.” For easy reference, the disappointing statistics that supported my headline included:

  • Of the top 10 wealthiest women in the world, every single one inherited their wealth from a male relative.
  • Of the world’s 1,011 self-made billionaires (those who made their own money rather than inheriting it), only 14 are women.

Lately, I’ve been wondering what progress women have made over the last handful of years, and decided it was time for an update. Do you think our standing has improved?

According to Forbes:

  • A record 56 self-made female billionaires were on the list in 2017, up from 42 in 2016.
  • Their combined wealth of $129.1 billion means that 2017 marks the first year that the self-made-woman billionaire wealth has surpassed $100 billion.
  • 25% of the world’s women billionaires are self-made (compared to 21% in 2016). This percentage has more than doubled since 2009.
  • The total of 56 women includes 7 women who are billionaires in their own right, but are listed on Forbes’ World Billionaires’ ranking with their husbands with whom they started their businesses. Their fortunes have been separated for this list.

I’m happy to see we’ve made some much-needed progress on this front—the number has quadrupled since 2011. Yet, it’s not exactly a number to celebrate. Women still represent a minority percentage of all self-made billionaires.

And remember, this is a worldwide list. In case you’re wondering what this looks like when you map it on a globe, here’s the breakdown by country:

  • 21 in China
  • 17 in the United States
  • 5 in Hong Kong
  • 3 in the United Kingdom
  • 1 each in Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Nigeria, Russia, Switzerland and Vietnam

Why the Low Numbers?

Yes, women are moving in the right direction (and in some unexpected countries, which is fantastic to see), but it’s clear that women are still lagging behind when it comes to creating wealth.

Now, I’d like for you spend a few minutes pondering why this is. Ask yourself:

  • What is the reason for this huge discrepancy?
  • Is the business world still stacked against women?
  • Is it because most women are adverse to the idea of being extremely rich?
  • Do women care more about “the mission” than making a lot of money?
  • What is holding us back, and how do we get beyond it?

I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. Here’s what I do know: Ladies, It’s Rising Time! It’s time for us to rise up to what it really takes for the reward of financial freedom. Does that mean you need to become a billionaire? Of course not. But it’s time to declare your commitment to not quit, to move beyond the obstacles in your way, and to keep moving upward, even in times of doubt. Make an agreement with yourself to do whatever it takes to reach your financial dreams. Don’t you owe it to yourself to be true to who you are and go after what you want?

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the women who have landed on this list of self-made billionaires (such as Oprah Winfrey, Sara Blakely of Spanx, and Marian Ilitch, America’s richest self-made woman, who co-founded Little Caesars with her husband). But I’d be willing to bet they didn’t make this list simply because they made all the right moves and the stars just aligned for them—I have no doubt that each one of them faced challenges and fears, yet still kept pushing forward through adversity until they reached success.

Let this be a call to action for women who are ready to take that next meaningful leap in life. If you’re ready to grow and expand beyond where you are today, if you have a vision of what you truly want in life and are willing to go after it, then this is your time. Too many women quit on their dreams and, more importantly, quit on themselves. It’s going to be hard and you’re going to make mistakes—achieving requires action and action will open doors you never anticipated. Accomplishing any valuable and meaningful goal takes all of you. Now is the best time to take your financial life into your own hands. Your financial future is up to you.

Original publish date: February 15, 2018

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