Living The Dream: The Most Successful, Self-Made Women In The U.S.
Luisa Kroll Forbes Staff
This story appears in the June 15, 2015 issue of Forbes.
Forbes has compiled its first ever list of the nation’s top 50 most successful, self-made women as measured by their net worths. The exclusive freshman class includes entrepreneurs, CEOs, entertainers, designers and even an author. Some of the list members are extremely well-known, starting with the likes of Oprah Winfrey andFacebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. Others like Kathy Fields and Katie Rodan, dermatologists who created acne treatment Proactiv and now have another skin care company, aren’t quite household names yet but may be on their way.
Elizabeth Holmes, who dropped out of Stanford to launch blood testing firm Theranos in 2003, tops the list with a net worth of $4.5 billion. At age 31, she is also the world’s youngest female billionaire. Other notables who made the cut include Eren Ozmen, who is chairman of Sierra Nevada, the biggest female-owned federal contractor in the U.S.; creator of American Girl dolls Pleasant Rowland; prolific novelist Nora Roberts and Martine Rothblatt, a transgender woman who founded and runs biotech firm United Therapeutics.
Sheryl Sandberg, Judy Sheindlin, Elizabeth Holmes, Beyoncé Knowles, Kit Crawford and Vera Wang
A remarkable 20 of the self-made women reside in the truly Golden state of California. Many of them are in technology including Weili Dai, cofounder of semiconductor firm Marvell Technology; Lynda Weinman, who sold her Lynda.com to LinkedIn for $1.5 billion in May; and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. But a number made their money in other ways. With her husband, Kit Crawford built Clif Bar into a successful maker of organic nutritional bars and drinks now sold in 14 countries. Former fashion model Kathy Ireland, who graced Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue for 13 years, is a licensing mogul who has lent her name to some 17,000 unglamorous products from socks to ceiling fans.