The Truth About The World's Richest Women

For the first time ever, women comprise (slightly) more than ten percent of the UK Sunday Times "Rich List." This is a dubious accomplishment, at least as far as assessing female progress, given that almost all of the women on the list achieved her wealth via family connections, including marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Welcome to the nineteenth century, ladies!

Some exceptions: J.K Rowling and Dame Mary Perkins, the co-founder of Specsavers with her husband. Some of the women combine inherited wealth with their own business acumen, like Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of Rupert and successful television producer.

Women make up a similar percentage of the Forbes 400. The four women on the most recent list who are self-made — Gap and ABC Supply's founders, who co-founded with late husbands, plus Meg Whitman and Oprah — are outnumbered by those who "inherited all or part of their fortunes from their husbands or fathers including three who ranked among America's top 20."

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It's not clear how many of the men on these lists were mostly born into wealth, but 55 of the 1,000 on the Sunday Times lists are hedge fund managers or commodity traders. The top three are steel and mining magnates, two Russian and one Indian. And some of the women on the list are their divorcees; The Wall Street Journal's Robert Frank writes that "one reason for the rise in rich U.K. women is that London has become the 'divorce capital of the world,' since a series of court rulings granted large awards to the wives of rich foreign citizens living in London."

Will Women Ever Outnumber Men Among The Ultra Rich? [WSJ]
Sunday Times Rich List 2011 [Telegraph]