Forbes magazine’s recent list of 2018’s richest self-made women caused an uproar when it was published on Wednesday (July 11, 2018) mainly because the cover story featured Kylie Jenner, who’s upbringing in a wealthy family seems to be the polar opposite of self-made.
Commenters pointed out she comes from a wealthy family and has also benefited from a massive platform for publicity her sister, Kim Kardashian and her mother, Kris Jenner, are largely responsible for building.
Responding to the complaints (which included push back from dictionary.com’s often spicy Twitter account), Forbes explained all of its billionaire profiles since 2014 have included a self-made score ranked on a scale of 1-10.
According to Forbes, to be self made, the individual “built a company or established a fortune on her own, rather than inheriting some or all of it. As long as the list member didn’t inherit a business or money, she is labeled self-made.”
1: Inherited fortune but not working to increase it: Laurene Powell Jobs
2: Inherited fortune and has a role managing it: Forrest Mars Jr.
3: Inherited fortune and helping to increase it marginally: Penny Pritzker
4: Inherited fortune and increasing it in a meaningful way: Henry Ross Perot Jr.
5: Inherited small or medium-size business and made it into a ten-digit fortune: Donald Trump
6: Hired or hands-off investor who didn’t create the business: Meg Whitman
7: Self-made who got a head start from wealthy parents and moneyed background: Rupert Murdoch
8: Self-made who came from a middle- or upper-middle-class background: Mark Zuckerberg
9: Self-made who came from a largely working-class background; rose from little to nothing: Eddie Lampert
10: Self-made who not only grew up poor but also overcame significant obstacles: Oprah Winfrey
Each of the 60 members on the richest self-made women list have an accompanying self-made score, which is list on their full profile. Jenner and Kim Kardashian both score a seven, while Taylor Swift’s self-made score is eight and Madonna checks in with a nine.
The publication acknowledges the ranking system isn’t perfect, and doesn’t take into account the difficult-to-quantify benefits or hurdles one might face based on one’s background. Case in point, the No. 1 woman on the list, arch conservative Diane Hendricks, has a nine self-made score and yet she founded her company with her husband in 1982. When she married Ken Hendricks, he was already a well-established businessman with a multi-state roofing company. While she might have succeeded as a entrepreneur without her husband, being married to an established business man no doubt allowed her access to loans a single woman would have been frozen out of.