Who Are the Richest Women in America?
The overwhelming majority of those who make it onto “richest people” lists—in all 50 states or the world—are men. This fact is unsurprising considering the history of discriminatory workplace practices and various barriers to women’s wealth, including barring women from having credit cards until the 1970s. Even in 2023, an income gap leaves women earning $0.83 on average for every $1 a man makes.
Madam C.J. Walker (pictured above), an early 19th-century purveyor of hair care and cosmetics for Black American women, is widely considered the first woman self-made millionaire in the United States. Among the 500 richest people in the world, according to the May 18, 2023, Bloomberg Billionaires Index, self-made women account for less than 5%.
Gender Disparity at the Top: Unveiling Inequality
In 2016, Gabriel Zucman, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told The New York Times that “the higher up you move in the income distribution, the lower the proportion of women … [which] shows that there is a fundamental form of inequality at the top related to gender.” This gender disparity is made even more clear by the fact that the number of female billionaires is growing half as fast as the number of male billionaires.
Stacker compiled a list of the richest women in America, using data from Forbes. These wealthy women are ranked by their net worth as of May 11, 2023. The women on the list have come upon their fortunes in various ways. Some, like the Waltons or the Pritzkers, are heiresses, inheriting wealth created by their families’ businesses. Others, like Thai Lee, are self-made. Still, others built businesses with their husbands, like Marian Ilitch of Little Caesars Pizza and MacKenzie Scott of Amazon. Regardless of how these women came into their fortunes, their economic impact is undeniable. Keep reading to see how many names you recognize.