Life Billionaire boys’ club: Why Australia has so few female billionaires

Billionaire boys’ club: Why Australia has so few female billionaires

Why are so few of our young, wealthy Australians women? Photo: Getty / TND
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A list of the richest young people in Australia shows more women are climbing the ranks, but they still only make up a tiny percentage.

The Australian Financial Review’s Young Rich List reveals more women have entered the top 100 compared to last year, but fewer women occupy places in the top 10.

This year, only 12 women made it into the top 100, a marginal increase from the nine that featured in 2019.

Sadly, the number of young women represented in the top 10 has dropped from three last year, to just one.

Though women have made strides in the workforce, the small number of female billionaires in Australia is a trend reflected worldwide.

In 2019, only 11.9 per cent of the world’s 2825 billionaires were women.

And according to Wealth-X, the number of female billionaires is growing half as fast as their male equivalents.

Even the number of women worth more than $40 million has declined over the past five years, despite growth in their male counterparts.

Big purse strings…

Leading the pack as the richest young Australian is 40-year-old Scott Farquhar, who is worth a reported $17.77 billion thanks to his software company, Atlassian.

Melanie Perkins, 34, and partner Cliff Obrecht, 32, take up second and third place and are worth $3.43 billion.

The couple have their graphic design software program, Canva, to thank for their meteoric rise to the top tier of wealth.

But Perkins is the only female represented in this year’s top 10, since tech entrepreneur, Cyan Ta’eed, was booted from fourth place all the way to 13th.

Melanie Perkins
Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht founded Canva in 2012 with Cameron Adams, who is fifth on the top 10 list. Photo: Getty

The next woman to appear on the list is personal trainer and Instagram influencer Kayla Itsines, all the way down at No.27 and worth $209 million.

Other familiar faces in the Young Rich List include Miranda Kerr, who comes in at No.41 and is worth $120 million, and Jennifer Hawkins who is 60th and is worth $60 million.

Margot Robbie, 30, appears in 64th place and is worth $55 million, roughly $20 million more than last year.

Author and beauty entrepreneur, Zoe Foster Blake, 40, is a newcomer to the list, debuting at No.84 thanks to her cult skincare brand Go-To.

Foster Blake, who is married to well-known Australian comedian Hamish Blake, is worth $36 million.

Hamish Blake Zoe Foster Blake
Foster Blake is an author and former relationship columnist. Photo: Getty

Julia Pimsleur, who founded multimillion-dollar Little Pim language instruction company, said the reason women were locked out of high-earning roles was due to unconscious discrimination in the world of venture capital.

“There is unconscious bias in the system,” Ms Pimsleur said.

“I believe there are many men who would like to see more women at the top.

“I don’t think they’re all actively trying to keep women out, but some discrimination still exists.”

The Young Rich List co-editors Julie-anne Sprague and Michael Bailey said in a statement there was a key theme among all those appearing on the list.

“There’s a consistent theme among those debuting on our Young Rich List and that is to back yourself 100 per cent,” Sprague said.

“Many of them started with nothing more than an idea and a garage to work out of, but have gone on to forge incredible fortunes.

“From online gaming innovator Laurence Escalante near the top, to cloud computing enablers Ben Bromhead and Adam Zegelin who sneak in at No.99 and No.100, the Young Rich List includes technology entrepreneurs of a number and breadth of applications never before seen,” Bailey said.