99 to 1

99 to 1 : Women and the 1%

Gender and Income Inequality

The gap between the rich and poor is a serious blow to the fight against gender and income inequality, and a threat to women’s rights.

The richest 1% (2,000 billionaires in the world) are overwhelmingly men and they now own more wealth than the rest of the world put together, with 62 individuals owning as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people.  Of the 50 women, on the 2017 Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans, eight have fortunes that are self-made.  The rest inherited their wealth.  There are only six self-made women billionaires who did not inherit their wealth and made their fortunes without a co-founding man:

  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Judy Faulkner
  • Meg Whitman
  • Sheryl Sandberg
  • Sara Blakely,
  • Carolyn Rafaelian

Women working full time in the United States are paid 80% of what men are paid and are not expected to reach pay equity with men until 2119 and 13% of American women ages 18-64 are living below the federal poverty level, compared with 10% of men.  For ages 65 and older 11% of women and 8% of men were living in poverty.

This is bad for growth, for reducing poverty and for social cohesion.  Eliminating the gender pay gap by increasing women’s levels of pay to those of men could cut the poverty rate for working women in half.

Americans are not generally aware of the extent of inequality or recent trends.  There is a direct relationship between actual income inequality and the public’s views about the need to address the issue in most developed countries, but not in the United States, where income inequality is worse, but the concern is lower.

Through extensive online research I found photographs of 99 women not known to be wealthy using random search words.  These women represent the 99%.  I printed the photographs, traced their faces, and researched royalty, aristocrats and socialites that might be of their ancestral lineage.  I create new portraits of these women incorporating clothing, headdresses and jewelry from possible royal, aristocratic or socialite ancestors and shift the 99% into the 1%.

During research and production new areas of interest arose which lead to writing fictional descriptions based on real facts and adding women who committed crimes and women known to be wealthy.