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Year of the rich woman

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Monday, March 17, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

They might still only be a tiny minority, but women are gaining ground among the ranks of the world's billionaires.

The 2014 Forbes list of billionaires counts a record 172 women among the 1,645 billionaires. That's up from 138 women a year earlier.

Christy Walton, widow of the son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, tops the list of wealthiest women with $36.7 billion. She lost the top spot last year to L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, who comes in second this year with a net worth of $34.5 billion. She is the richest individual in France.

Another Walton comes in third on the list: Alice Walton, daughter of Sam, has a fortune worth $34.3 billion.

The richest person overall on the Forbes billionaire list is Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, worth $76 billion. In total, the 1,645 individuals are worth an aggregate $6.4 trillion.

Five newcomers to the list earned it the hard way

Of the 42 women who made the list for the first time this year, only five are self-made. Most women on the list inherited their fortune from husbands or parents.

The five self-made female billionaires include Sheryl Sandberg, worth $1.05 billion. She is the COO of Facebook and, at the age of 44, is one of the world's youngest women to earn her own fortune.

Nigeria's first female billionaire, Famfa Oil founder Folorunsho Alakija, makes the list as a newcomer with a fortune of $2.5 billion.

Other self-made women include Denise Coates of the United Kingdom, worth $1.6 billion. She is the largest shareholder of an online gambling site. Liu Xiaomeng of China owns a stake in the country's largest appliance retailer and has a net worth of $1 billion, and Wang Laichun made her $1 billion as chairman of Shenzhen Luxshare Precision Industry.

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March 19, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Maximum, most of the people that work at Walmart do not live beyond their means because they cannot afford it. Walmart has record profits and their owners have record wealth. They can easily raise their minimum wages to $15 per hour and the Walton family would still be making billions in profits. They are just greedy, and tax payers have to foot the bill to pay for the foodstamps. The Waldons should not be allowed to do this.

March 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Did Warmart make these people live beyond their means? I don't think so! Entry level jobs are not meant to be careers just a starting point. Walmart is a GREAT employer! One of the few American based companies still existing.

March 19, 2014 at 10:54 am

Hugo, you should listen to R A Miller. He said the truth.
For every store of Walmart in existence, the government has to come up with 1 million $ in food stamps to help the employees of Walmart because of low wages. The Walton family should be prosecutted for this.