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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 1:13 am

R.A. Miller; you may want to check your facts and stop spewing out anti capitalist propaganda about Wal-Mart.

Unless of course you're one of the jealous anti-capitalists yourself.

March 18, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Thank You Nigeria...you use my identity for $3 million, and I work hourly to make ends meat. Thank you for stealing my identity for your mafia, and thank you for messing up my life.
Folorunsho Alakija, if you could right the wrongs of YOUR COUNTRY while I live hand to mouth in America...I would appreciate it!

Toni D Flacco
March 18, 2014 at 10:13 pm

GOD wants those with so much more to share the "wealth" with those who have so much less so...............ladies, I need some help to pay down some of my bills....whatdayasay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

R A MIller
March 18, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Unfortunately, the Waltons made their money on the backs of their poorly compensated employees, while forcing companies out of business, just so they could get a cheaper price from China, or some other hellhole factory.

Douglas Vickroy
March 18, 2014 at 9:04 pm

To each individual listed above, and many more; congratulation for the accomplishments of unveiling each vision to maximize profits trough hard work, and leverage.
Douglas Vickroy

Concern Troll
March 18, 2014 at 7:53 pm

What about Oprah? Isn't she a self-made female billionaire?

Asdf McAsdf
March 18, 2014 at 6:17 pm

The online gambling one is no surprise to me.

March 18, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Great for them! I need a good paying job ASAP!!
Any tips?

March 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Joe: It says "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..."

So the headline is recognizing those 5.

Bravo Ladies!

joe brossi
March 18, 2014 at 5:25 pm

why is the title of this article "5 Self-Made Female Billionaires" then when you read the article all the top lades are Widows or heiress ? kind of misleading.