Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wealth and Gender

I would like someone to issue a cogent explanation of how the two richest people in China are both women. See here.

Now, China is a society which oppresses women more than the Western world. This is not up for debate. I have been told firsthand by someone from China on how girls are often abandonded at birth because only males are suitable for continuing the family. The press is right.

Yet, the wealthiest woman in the Western world comes in at #12 on the billionaire list. A far cry from #1. Liliane Bettencourt.

The richest self-made woman in China? The number two overall, Zhang Yin, who started Nine Dragons Paper. Also the richest self-made woman in the world. Worth about $10 billion.

So, explain again how Western society is oppressing women from becoming rich? Their counterparts in poorer countries, where the hurdles are much bigger, aren't having problems.

Can we write this off to coincidence? Are there really bigger hurdles in Canada et al? (I find this unplausible.) My most tempting explanation is that the developed world is already picked over for wealth-generating ideas, and the lush ones were taken long ago, when men really did control everything. This argument basically boils down to that Western women had fewer leeway to exercise economic power when we were industrializing compared to the economic powers Chinese women have now, when their country is industrializing.

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