By Shikha Sreenivas
Yoshiko Shinohara started a temp-staff company in her one bedroom apartment forty years ago. The company grew enormously, with her as the chairperson — even though she possessed only a high school degree and secretarial experience. And now, at age 82, she is Japan’s first self-made billionaire.
But wait — She’s the first? According to Forbes, there are only 26 other self-made women billionaires in Asia. That’s a little low, especially when the men in the list of billionaires seem to go on and on and on. In 2016, women made up around 10 percent of the 1,810 billionaires there. Out of the 100 richest people in India in 2016, only four are women, and only one is a self-made billionaire — Kiran Majumdar.
According to a research firm, Wealth-X, in 2015 for every female billionaire, there are 8.4 male billionaires. These statistics are even worse when you count only the self-made billionaires, and not those who have inherited their fortunes. Wealth-X statistics reveal that out of the 249 female billionaires in the world, 49 are self-made.
Julia Pimsleur, the founder of a multi-million dollar company, Little Pim, tells the New York Times, that this is because of “discrimination in the executive suite and the world of venture capital”. The biases and prejudices that prevent women from rising in the fields of business and entrepreneurship still very much exist, and reveal themselves in other ways, such as people not willing to buy shares from a company with a woman at the head.
In the last years, women have been breaking the glass ceiling and climbing the ladder in their workplaces like never before, but the number of women who break into the top 1 percent of earners are few, and it’s important to ask why the billionaire’s club is still a boy’s club.