The World's Richest Women

by Ranganathan 2012-08-28 11:03:33

Women are still a minority among the billionaire set, but the richest female billionaires are wealthier this year than last. The 21 richest women in the world (two women tied at 20th place) have a combined total net worth of $248.6 billion, or an average of $11.84 billion each. Thatâs a slight jump up from last yearâs 20 richest, whose average net worth was $11.6 billion.

The majority of this exclusive set, members of Forbesâ 2012 list of The Worldâs Billionaires, gained their wealth through inheritance and marriage. But one womanâChinese journalist-turned-real-estate-developer Wu Yajunâcan say her fortune is entirely self-made.

Forbes World's Billionaires 2012
Luisa Kroll
Forbes Staff

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Overall, the number of female billionaires is slowly growing. This year, of the record 1,226 people in the world worth $1 billion or more, 104âjust 8.5%âare women. Still, thatâs a record number of women on the Forbes Billionaires List. Ten years ago, in 2002, only 36 women were Forbes Billionaires.

Of the 21 richest women, seven are American, two Chinese, two German and two Swedes. The richest, for the seventh year in a row, is Christy Walton, who inherited her fortuneânow worth $25.3 billionâfrom husband John Walton after he died in a plane crash. The youngest woman is Chinese heiress Yang Huiyan, 30; the oldest is 92-year-old Anne Cox Chambers, the Cox media empire heiress. Candy heiress Jacqueline Mars, LâOreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, and Chambers are the three women who have been on the list every year since 1987, the first year Forbes published its World Billionaires list. Only eight womenâfive of them Americansâwere billionaires then.

Brazilian steel heiress Dorothea Steinbruch & her family tied with Spainâs Rosalia Meraâex-wife of Zara founder Amancio Ortegaâfor the number 20 spot.

Although not in the top 20, of particular note is newly minted Spanx billionaire Sara Blakely, at 41, the worldâs youngest self-made female billionaire

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