Progress for women on the Forbes list: meaningful change, or just a fluke?

Author: The Christian Science Monitor

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Charlice Hurst

It's been a banner year for women billionaires.

At least, that's the message from Forbes' list of richest people in the world, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. According to the list, the number of women billionaires has increased to a record 227 women – up from 202 women from last year. Many of the new listees are "self-made" and joining the rankings for the first time, particularly new entrepreneurs from Asia. The women have made their fortunes on a range of ventures, some of which include smartphones, pizza, roofing, real estate, and fashion retail.

But celebration could be a little premature – at least, as far as women in general are concerned. While the number of women billionaires has inched up, they still only make up 11 percent of the 2,043-person list. And while the number of successful super-wealthy businesswomen indicates some signs of progress, it does little to solve setbacks at a more basic economic level, such as equal pay between the sexes, says Charlice Hurst, a professor at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

"I don't find this increase terribly exciting," Dr. Hurst tells The Christian Science Monitor in an email. "Self-made female billionaires now make up 2.7 percent of the list versus 2.3 percent last year. That doesn't seem like grounds for claiming systemic change, particularly not for women at all levels of the economic ladder and of all races and ethnicities."

Read the entire article on The Christian Science Monitor website.