Women have been fighting for equal rights and fair wages for over 100 years and although great strides have been made, the progress is not enough.
The glass ceiling is far from shattered. Women make approximately 80 cents to a man’s dollar. With a median income of $39k compared to $50k for men, the gap is too large to ignore. When it comes to women who are top earners and worth billions of dollars, the numbers are even worse.
“The higher up you move in the income distribution, the lower the proportion of women,” said Gabriel Zucman, Economics Professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
Women account for 16% of the top 1% and only 11% of the top .1% of earners. The minimum income to be considered in the top 1% is $390,000, while the minimum for the top .1% is $1.32 million. Of the 2,500 billionaires, only 294 of them are women – making them just 12% of that population.
The number of women worth at least $30 million dollars or more is growing at only half the rate of men, and while the number of female millionaires and billionaires decline, male numbers continue to climb. In 2000, there were only 11 female billionaires, and in 2016 there were 190.
These numbers would be even worse if it were not for the amount of wealth that women inherit. Of the aforementioned 294 female billionaires, only 49 are self-made. And of 27,000 women who are worth $30 million or more, only a third of them are self-made. Yet what’s more disheartening is on the global scale, the amount of American, self-made female billionaires are even scarcer.
There are many reasons why the wage gap exists but an overwhelming 40% cannot be explained by anything other than gender discrimination. Research shows that more than half wage gap is due to differences in the types of industries in which men and women work.
Women of color face a larger challenge when it comes to equal pay, with African-American, Asian, and Latina women making less than white women and their male counterparts. The wage gap continues to be a problem for women even when they have the same racial and educational background as a man. It’s fair to draw the conclusion that gender-based pay discrimination is still a significant cause of the discrepancy in pay between men and women.
So what can be done to increase the amount female billionaires there are?
Julia Pimsleur, founder of Little Pim language instruction company – a multimillion dollar firm says women have to put themselves at the top in their minds. “It has to start with ‘I’m going to be the CEO’ and then it’s, ‘what do I need to do to get there?’ And then you go out and become that person.”
According to Martine Rothblatt, a serial entrepreneur and 2013’s highest-paid female CEO at a $38 million salary, says there are three things that can be done to change to gender dynamic in the executive suite:
- Eliminate “Say on Pay” rules that allow shareholders to vote on executive compensation
- Get rid of shareholder advisory groups
- Support initiatives that bring girls into STEM oriented programs, since getting rich is largely associated with science and technology
What’s interesting about Rothblatt’s story is that she was born as Martin, and has only been a woman for half her life, undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 1994. Rothblatt credits her success to the fact that she’s benefited from being a man the first half of her life, but still tries to do her part in fighting for equal pay for women. “A girl who can dominate a field of robots is a woman who can dominate in a field if men,” said Rothblatt.