The world’s richest self-made women

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In  1998 Meg Whitman took a leap of faith and accepted a job as chief executive of eBay, then a small tech firm with 30 employees. The payoff was equity in the burgeoning company

Thanks to that decision, Whitman soon joined the ranks of the 1,011 billionaires in the world. Rarer still, she’s one of just 14 female billionaires in the world right now who earned their fortunes, rather than inherited them. The richest of them is China’s Wu Yajun, worth $3.9 billion and ranked 232nd in the world in March when we published our 2010 Billionaires list. By contrast, 665 men are self-made billionaires including the three richest people in the world, Carlos Slim Helú , Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

All of these self-made female billionaires have impressive personal stories, but the dearth of them is itself a story, and begs the question of why so few?

One explanation has to do with the fact that while women in the United States start their own businesses at roughly twice the rate of men, they are still playing catch-up in most parts of the world. “Women are still at the beginning of their journey to entrepreneurship or higher levels of entrepreneurship,” says Sharon Hadary, the former and founding executive director of the Center for Women’s Business Research. According to that group, only 20% of all businesses over $1 million are women-owned enterprises.

Full story: The World’s Richest Self-Made Women –