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Forbes' America's Richest Self-Made Women list includes Austin faces, plus the woman behind SpaceX

Gwynne Shotwell has been working with SpaceX since 2002, as one of the first 11 employees. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

Women nationwide are getting richer—Forbes reported that the wealth of the top self-made women has soared 31% since last year—and Austin's women are no exception. Out of the top 100 women who climbed their way to the rankings, five have Austin ties.


Austin, and Texas', notable addition Gwynne Shotwell is changing the space-scape of the city as we know it. As SpaceX's president and COO, Shotwell came in 62nd place with a net worth of $460 million.

Shotwell, an Illinois native, is now living outside Austin and Waco in Jonesboro, Texas. She works closely with Austin-transplant Elon Musk, having joined SpaceX back in 2002, and manages the operations of the company that wants to put human civilization on other planets.

Having watched the Apollo 11 launch as a child and the tragedy of the Challenger shuttle soon after she graduated college, Shotwell has a complicated relationship with space travel. In fact, Shotwell wasn't even interested in space until she began working at The Aerospace Corporation, which she later left to become director of the space systems division at Microcosm Inc.

Enter Elon Musk, one of the most celebrated entrepreneurs of her generation, who crossed her path at a Konigsmann launch. A little of her own business advice landed her an unexpected job as VP of sales position at SpaceX.

Shotwell's part in the company has led to a negotiation of the first Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA, a driving force behind the 50 launches with the Falcon Vehicle and the subsequent $5 billion in generated revenue.

What's next for Shotwell? Besides landing her second year on the America's Richest Self-Made Women list, Shotwell is entering an exciting time for SpaceX. SpaceX's Starbase is nearing completion while the company prepares to send the Super Heavy rocket to space. Plus, the Starlink satellite internet service, which will soon have a factory in Austin, is rapidly gaining popularity with more than 100,000 customers.

Familiar faces on the list include SHI International CEO Thai Lee, who ranked sixth with a net worth of $4.1 billion; Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, ranking 21st with a net worth of $1.3 billion; Kendra Scott jewelry founder Kendra Scott, coming in 35th place with a net worth of $800 million; and Advanced Micro Devices CEO Lisa Su, who ranked 52nd with a net worth of $600 million.

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