Less than 10% of the World’s Billionaires Are Women

Various studies have been coming out over the last six months noting the gender disparity in the world’s wealthiest people. Forbes reported that of 1000 billionaires in the world only 14 are women; while TrendHunter claims that of 946 billionaires, only 86 are women, so either way it’s a range between 1 and 9 percent which is extremely low. Maybe not a surprising stat but a disappointing one nonetheless.

So what can we attribute this to? It doesn’t seem to make sense considering in the U.S. women make up more than half of the workforce and more than half of college graduates. So why is there such a large disparity in wealth?

One article I read recently talked about men benefiting more from mentors than women, so women aren’t mentored as much in professional settings and when they are, they still don’t benefit as much as their male counterparts.

The survey of 4,000 MBA graduates of top schools in Asia, Europe, Canada and the U.S. highlighted an incredible achievement gap. Both sexes were equally likely to have an active mentor relationship, yet in their first jobs post-MBA, mentored men had starting salaries that averaged $9,260 more than those of mentored women. Moreover, the men were promoted more frequently and with greater salary increases, receiving raises of 21% per promotion, compared to just 2% for women. This was true even when years of experience, industry and region were considered.

The study–sponsored by American Express, Barclays Capital, Chevron and General Motors–found that mentors are beneficial to the careers of both men and women, but the benefits to men are more pronounced. Men with mentors were 93% more likely to be placed at mid-management level or above and earned $6,726 more than men without mentors. Women with mentors, on the other hand, were only 56% more likely to be placed in management and earned just $661 more than women without mentors. It seems mentors quite literally pay off more for MBA men.

Though the stats about billionaires reflect the global landscape, we still have work to do here in the states. The United States is 16th in a list of the 20 countries with the highest number of women entrepreneurs; we are behind Japan (who is the only country to have more women entrepreneurs than men entrepreneurs), Venezuela and Kazakhstan. We are also aware that there are distinct disparities in what American women earn in comparison to American men (Paycheck Fairness Act, anyone?). When we break it down even further to American women, there are deep disparities in race, ethnicity, and marital status regarding wealth.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/azinyk/ azinyk

    Fewer than 10% of billionaires are women, but put another way, fewer than 0.000014% of *people* are billionaires, and none of those people deserve to be. There is no possible legitimate way to earn a billion dollars. You cannot possibly work hard enough, or be smart enough, or take enough risk, to deserve that much money.

    We shouldn’t have more female billionaires; we shouldn’t have any billionaires at all.


    • davenj

      This is an absurd statement. People don’t earn money by “deserving” it. They earn money by successfully marketing the goods and services they can provide to others.

      How, exactly, does one “deserve” to be a billionaire? How does one “deserve” to make $30k a year?

      Economic outcomes are the result of individual actions, but also the vast course of human history and other events far beyond our control.

      The link provided is pretty egregious, too. It proposes that somehow because someone’s earning potential is tied to a larger group of people they ought to pay more in taxes, but this is simply nonsensical. Most jobs are dependent on our large population, the link just isn’t as obvious. Sanitation workers, people who work in mass industry, and a whole host of other positions are tied to our large population, too.

      There are plenty of good arguments for progressive taxation, but that link isn’t one of them.

      As for not having any billionaires at all, that’s pretty unrealistic. A certain amount of economic liberalism is necessary to create the structures and individual entrepreneurs who will eventually become billionaires. The absence of that won’t mean less billionaires in the world, but rather fewer billionaires in one country, and less net wealth. Obviously it’s a fine line to walk, but the absence of billionaires does not mean the presence of greater economic equality.

      Getting rid of all the billionaires in the US wouldn’t be beneficial to the poor. It would be cutting the nose to spite the face.