The Top 10 Richest Women in the World

Can you name the wealthiest people on Earth? Likely, names including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet come to mind, but how many women could you name? If the answer is not many, you’re not alone. The fact is, there are some immensely powerful and wealthy women in the world, many of them living under-the-radar and out of the public’s eye.

Just like the world’s wealthiest men, the world’s richest women have acquired their fortunes through a variety of means. Many came to their wealth through inheritance, either marrying into it or receiving it from a dying parent or grandparent. Others have built successful businesses, or even used incredibly wise investing strategies. Still others simply took some powerful initiative and climbed the corporate ladder, starting from relatively simple means and vaulting to the top of the food chain.

We’re going to take a brief look at the world’s top 10 wealthiest women, as researched and compiled by Forbes in 2014. Naturally, this list is set to change and be updated with every passing year, but as of right now, these women occupy the top spots.

Read on to see the world’s 10 richest women.

10Johanna Quandt

With a net worth of $12.8 billion, Johanna Quandt cracks the world’s top 10. If you have never heard of Quandt, you’re not alone. She came to prominence by working for, and eventually marrying, Herbert Quandt, who was a German industrialist who took over BMW and saved it from bankruptcy. She still holds a significant chunk of BMW stock and sits on the company’s supervisory board. Her husband died in in 1982, leaving his money to Johanna and their two children.

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9Laurene Powell Jobs

The widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs sits atop a fortune worth $14 billion. Jobs is incredibly well-educated, having received degrees from both the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University, and has also put her entrepreneurial skills to work by founding Emerson Collective and College Track, both of which work toward bettering education. Jobs is also the largest single shareholder of Disney stock, which has helped boost her net worth considerably.

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8Anne Cox Chambers

Another name many probably aren’t familiar with, Anne Cox Chambers commands a net worth of $15.5 billion as the majority owner of Cox Enterprises, a privately-held media conglomerate. Inheriting the company from her father, Cox still sits on the company’s board at the age of 94, and even spent time in the political world, having served as an ambassador to Belgium during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

7Abigail Johnson

Abigail Johnson wasted no time climbing the corporate ladder at Fidelity Investments, of which she is now the president and CEO. Her estimated net worth is more than $17 billion, and her company oversees more than $1.6 trillion in investment funds. Her father served as Fidelity’s CEO before her, but Johnson started rather low on the ladder. She took an analyst position with the company way back in 1988, and kept climbing in rank until she eventually took over the company earlier this year.

6Susanne Klatten

Susanne Klatten is the daughter of another woman on our list, Johanna Quandt. As a result of her lineage, Klatten is the richest woman in Germany, and owns almost half of BMW along with her brother and mother. Her net worth is estimated at $17.4 billion as of this year. Klatten also has an impressive academic and business track record, having earned business degrees an becoming a trained economist. According to German publication DW, she has even worked under an alternate name, so that her family’s wealth — and her association with it — wouldn’t get in the way of her professional endeavors.

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5Gina Rinehart

With a fortune topping $17.7 billion, Australian mining heiress Gina Rinehart is the richest individual on her continent. Her father discovered rich iron and coal deposits in parts of Australia, building mines to extract them and becoming immensely wealthy. Rinehart has used her inheritance to buy up media companies and becoming involved in many areas of Australian politics.

Source: Mars, Incorporated Official Facebook Page

4Jacqueline Mars

If you’ve ever had a Milky Way, a pack of M&M’s or a Snicker’s bar, you can thank the Mars family for it. The candy empire has paid immense dividends for the family over the years, and has allowed Jacqueline Mars, the daughter and granddaughter of the company’s founders, to enjoy the spoils, of which she controls $20 billion. Together with her brothers, Mars oversees their candy company’s continued success into the 21st century, which has brought in more than $33 billion in sales.

photo by Wesley Hitt, Hitt Photography

3Alice Walton

If the last name isn’t a dead giveaway, Alice Walton is one of the heirs to the vast Wal-Mart fortune. Her piece of the pie comes in at $34.3 billion, to be exact. Walton is known as the biggest philanthropist in her family, having given billions to charity and using her wealth to support educational reform initiatives. She’s also a well-known art collector, having purchased her first piece of art at the age of 10. Her professional career has included stints as a broker for an investment firm, and as an equity analyst for First Commerce Corporation.

Photo by Marc Ausset-Lacroix/Getty Images

2Liliane Bettencourt

If you’re not familiar with Liliane Bettencourt, you’re probably familiar with what made her so wealthy. Bettencourt built her $34.5 billion fortune as one of the biggest shareholders in L’Oreal. Her father, who founded the company, put her to work at the age of 15, mixing shampoos and other cosmetic products. She also married Andre Bettencourt in the 1950s, who was a higher-up in the French government. Now 92 years old, Bettencourt has become a philanthropist and lives in Paris.

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1Christy Walton

The title of the world’s richest woman belongs to Christy Walton, the widowed wife of John Walton, one of the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune. Walton’s net worth is estimated to pile up to $36.7 billion, and continues to grow thanks to savvy investing in companies like First Solar. Her husband died in a plane crash in 2005, while flying an experimental aircraft near their home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Walton still lives there, and is one of the world’s top 10 richest people.