The World's Richest Women Aren't American

A global ranking of female executives found that half of the world's self-made female billionaires are Chinese. Of the 28 female entrepreneurs worth more than $1 billion, 15 of them are from mainland China, the Hurun Report says. The United States claims the second most self-made female billionaires, with eight on the list (including Oprah and the founder of Spanx).

Some 25 percent of the self-made female billionaires work in the real estate industry, while 18 percent are in finance and investments and 9 percent in manufacturing (compared to half of the world's richest men working in manufacturing).

A 71-year-old Chinese woman named Chen Lihua is the richest self-made woman globally. Worth more than $6 billion (37 billion yuan), Lihua replaces last year's richest woman, Wu Yajun.

In a 2012 piece for Time magazine, actor Jackie Chan described Lihua as "the most generous person" he had ever known — a "gracious and humble woman" whose real estate company had brought her wealth but whose true success relied on her "genuine understanding of people, her steadfast dedication to education and the arts and her profound commitment to philanthropy." Isn't that nice? For some reason it's nice to know that the world's richest female executive is beloved by Jackie Chan.

The eight American women on the list were:

  • Judy Faulkner (#11) - founder of Epic Systems Corporation, an electronic health records company.
  • Doris Fisher (#16) - co-founder of The Gap
  • Lynda Resnick (#16, tied) - co-founder of a holding company that now owns POM Wonderful, Telaflora and Fiji Water, among other things.
  • Johnelle Hunt (#19) - co-founder of the trucking company J.B. Hunt Transport
  • Meg Whitman (#23) - president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard
  • Ruth Parasol (#26) - founder of the company behind online poker site
  • Sara Blakely (tied for #26) - founder of Spanx

Other women on the world's richest list include Spain's Rosalia Mera, the co-founder of the retail chain Zara who died in August 2013; Italy's Giuliana Benetton, founder of the clothing company Benetton Group; Cher Wang, a Taiwanese woman who founded and chairs HTC Corporation, which manufactures one out of every 6 smartphones sold in the United States; and Brazil's Dulce Bueno, who would seem to have a leg up on the competition just by virtue of her name (it means "sweet good").

Photo: Chen Lihua, via Wikimedia Commons