The world's 9 wealthiest women

  • Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The New York Times

    While the ranks of billionaires form an elite club, there's even a smaller subset: women with more than $1 billion in assets.

    Roughly 12 percent of the world's billionaires are women, representing a small but powerful group with interests in some of the globe's biggest corporations, according to Wealth-X, an advisory firm that specializes in what it calls the "ultra high net worth" clique.

    Aside from being a smaller group than male billionaires, who number more than 2,000, women billionaires are more likely to have come by their enormous fortunes through inheritance, rather than via entrepreneurship. Only about 17 percent of women billionaires are self-made, compared with 60 percent of men, Wealth-X notes. But that's likely to change, according to David S. Friedman, president of Wealth-X.

    "In general, the trend in the past has been that men are the ones that traditionally started businesses, but that's changing quickly," Friedman told CBS MoneyWatch. "You have the emergence of the "lean in" movement, and (Yahoo CEO) Marissa Mayer showing up on the scene, so you have the platform to develop more women entrepreneurs."

    Take Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook (FB). With a net worth of just over $1 billion, she's one of a younger generation of women who are making their own fortunes, Friedman noted.

    Women who are self-made may want to be more in the limelight than those who inherited their billions, Friedman said. Sandberg, for example, has made it her mission to boost women in leadership roles through her book "Lean In" and through her foundation of the same name.

    In what Wealth-X calls the "ultra affluent" segment -- people with a net worth of up to $30 million -- about one-third of women are self-made, indicating that the next generation of the world's richest women will include more entrepreneurs along with those who inherited their money.

    While the current crop of the world's richest women owe their fortunes to largely to inheritance, many have leadership roles in the businesses started by family members.

    Read on to find out more about the world's nine wealthiest women.