Many female billionaires that pop up on Forbes list inherited their fortunes, but despite the wage gap that still persists between men and women, a few hard-driving ladies still managed to earn their own billions. Here's a look at some self-made female billionaires and what characteristics led them to the top.
After graduating from Tennessee State University, Winfrey started her broadcasting career in Nashville, then relocated to Baltimore and eventually settled in Chicago where Harpo Studios is located today. Her successful television show, magazine and TV network has earned her billions, with a net worth that's growing daily. She hit No. 400 on Forbes' 2010 World Billionaires list with a $2.4 billion net worth.
Doris Fisher planted the roots for her fortune in 1969, when she opened the first Gap store in San Francisco. It took a lifetime of determination, but Doris Fisher is now one of the wealthiest women in America. She ranked No.374 on Forbes' 2010 World Billionaires list with $2.5 billion.
Zhang Xin is proving there's money to be made in property - billions in fact - even in China. She earned her degree at Cambridge University before starting Soho China to develop property in China, along with her husband Pan Shiyi. In 2005, Zhang Xin's husband transferred his shares in Soho China to her, bringing this 44 year-old's net worth to a cool $2 billion, and landing her at No.488 on the 2010 Forbes' World Billionaire list.
Margaret Whitman worked for Disney, StrideRite and FTD before reluctantly taking on a job heading up marketing for a small start-up auction website. That small start-up became the auction giant known as eBay and earned Whitman her $1.3 billion fortune.
"Find a day job," J.K. Rowling's publisher told her when her Harry Potter series finally made it to print. Writing children's books just wasn't enough to make a living was the consensus at the time - a preconception Rowling would soon blow out of the water. J.K. Rowling, once an unemployed single mother, now sits on a $1 billion fortune.
The Bottom Line
With a positive attitude, these women made their fortunes on their own terms - by working really hard for it. Like Oprah Winfrey says of her success, "I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity."