Oprah gets some rich company

More women join the annual Forbes list of the world's billionaires.


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Sarah Elizabeth Richards
March 14, 2006 9:30PM (UTC)

Here's a bit of good news in what is otherwise a depressing list: Last week, 10 more women joined the annual Forbes roster of the world's richest people. What's the depressing part? Although the number of female billionaires has risen to 78, that's out of 793 people. Do the math and you'll see that women make up fewer than 10 percent of the planet's moneybags.

It gets worse; supposedly, only six of the 78 women's fortunes were self-made. (They include Oprah Winfrey, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and eBay's Meg Whitman; Martha Stewart was dropped from the list after her net worth fell to $500 million after she left jail.) But what's really disturbing is that the article makes no mention of how many of the men earned their dough - giving the impression that only wealthy women are trust fund babes or "marry up."

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This is all in light of another recent Forbes article about a study by consulting giant Accenture taht showed that although women still earn 77 cents to every dollar made by a man, approximately 60 percent say they are happy with their salaries. (That's compared with 67 percent of men.) American women also reported feeling nearly as satisfied as men are with the professional levels they had achieved.

But the Accenture results, which polled 1,200 executives in eight countries, are confusing -- since the same article also reports that about 70 percent of women and 57 percent of men also believe that the glass ceiling still keeps women back in business. And Forbes quotes another study of American women by the research firm Catalyst that shows that women are just as likely as men to want senior management positions.

Doesn't it seem, then, that women would also like the money that goes with those jobs? I don't buy that today's girls want to settle for becoming mere millionaires.


Sarah Elizabeth Richards

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist based in New York. She can be reached at sarah@saraherichards.com.

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