Forbes’ annual list of billionaires includes a record 172 women this year, up 25% from last year’s 138 female billionaires.
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg made the list for the first time, and of the 268 newcomers to the list, 42 are women, the highest share of new female billionaires ever.
Other newly minted female billionaires include Folorunsho Alakija, a self-made Nigerian billionaire who made her $2.5 billion in the oil industry, and Denise Coates, who made her $1.6 billion from her online gambling company, Bet365.com. Two of Estee Lauder’s granddaughters also make the list this year, Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer and Jane Lauder, who each oversee other companies now. Zinterhofer runs her own lifestyle empire, Aerin, and Lauder will take the helm at Clinique in April.
Other veteran billionaires like Oprah Winfrey, Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman and Spanx creator Sara Blakely returned to the list this year. The richest woman in the world is Christy Walton, heir to the Wal-Mart empire founded by her father-in-law. She’s the only woman in Forbes’s top 10.
The list numbers a total of 1,645 billionaires worth a combined total of $6.4 trillion, up from $5.4 trillion last year, which means another trillion dollars are in the hands of the planet’s richest people. Women make up a little under 10% of the total billionaire population.
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