When thinking of the world’s richest business woman, names like Oprah Winfrey or J.K. Rowling probably come to mind.
How about Wu Yajun? Or Chen Lihua?
The list of this year’s Richest Business Women in the World, compiled by Hurun Report, was topped by two Chinese women.
Wu Yajun, 48, whose personal wealth is $6 billion, places at number one for the second year in a row. Wu is the CEO of a company she built herself, Longfor Properties, which handles real estate and is based in Beijing.
In second place is Chen Lihua, 71, founder of Fu Hua International, a real estate company. Her personal wealth is estimated at $5.4 billion.
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To put it in perspective, American real estate moguls Conrad Hilton and Donald Trump are valued at about $2 billion each, half of second-ranked Chen.
The success of Wu, Chen and the rest of the women on the list may come as a surprise considering China’s deep-rooted cultural tradition that favors males. China’s One Child policy created a culture that still exists, one in which sons were considered superior to daughters.
Leadership positions in particular are almost always reserved for men. With a very rigid governing system, it is difficult for women to penetrate Chinese politics. Business, however, is a sector where Chinese women have gained ground.
Compared to their peers in other countries, the women of China have managed to not only top the charts, but they have also dominated them. Of the list of 22 richest businesswomen in the world, half are Chinese, and four of them are ranked in the top five.
Not only are these women economic competitors to their male counterparts, but they are also finding their success at a younger age. Huarun Report says that the top 10 women’s list averages four years younger than the list that includes both men and women.
They may not have the celebrity status or fan following like Winfrey and Rowling (who by the way are sixth and sixteenth on the list, respectively) but their impressive earnings in spite of Chinese cultural odds are still an internationally recognized success.