As we close out the year, let’s take a look back at women making serious moves: Misty Copeland was named the first black female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre and Sarah Thomas became the first female referee in the NFL. Women continued to assume positions of power all around the world.
And while wage equality is far from being a reality, we can take solace in seeing — and celebrating — the success of some truly remarkable women. From actors to athletes to authors, here are women made serious money in 2015 (note: some of these salaries are calculated on a fiscal calendar to account for end-of-year bonuses).
1. Jennifer Lawrence, actress
Your best friend Jennifer Lawrence brought in a whopping $52 million pretax (note: this is over a 12-month period that started in 2014), making her the highest-paid actress of the year. Her 2015 films include The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 and Joy. Did I mention that she’s 25 years old?
2. Veronica Roth, author
Anyone who thinks there’s no money in writing should pay attention to the YA (that’s young adult) frenzy sweeping the nation. Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent trilogy, brought in an estimated $25 million in 2015 (up $8 million from 2014). Insurgent, the movie based on book two in the series, grossed $295 million internationally, and Roth just signed a new book deal.
3. Serena Williams, athlete
Between endorsements and winnings, superhuman athlete Serena Williams took home $24.6 million in 2015. In addition to scoring deals with Chase, Audemars Piguet, and PepsiCo., Williams continued her domination of tennis; she’s now won 21 Grand Slam singles titles. Williams has won $72 million in prize money over her career.
4. Katy Perry, musician
Talk about serious cash: Katy Perry made $135 million this year. (Her 126-show Prismatic tour brought in more than $2 million per city). Her endorsement deals with Claire’s, CoverGirl, and Coty add to the pot, along with robust record sales — to the tune of 83.5 million units of digital singles over her career.
5. Lynda Weinman, entrepreneur
If you’ve ever searched around for an online class, you likely know that Lynda.com is the gold standard, with 267,000 videos to choose from. Weinman sold Lynda.com to LinkedIn in April of this year for a reported $1.5 billion. Not bad for a company started in 1995 to teach Web design — one that almost didn’t make it through the tech crash. Weinman’s net worth? $320 million.
6. Taylor Swift, musician
We’ve long admired Swift’s power moves as a businesswoman, and they paid off handsomely in 2015. Swift banked a cool $80 million in tour revenue and record sales. She is the seventh highest-selling female artist since Nielsen tracking started in 1991.
7. Danielle Steel, author
In case you ever had any doubts, there’s clearly still a strong demand for what Danielle Steel is selling: She made $25 million this year alone. Steel is exceptionally prolific — she’s published 94 novels since 1973 and continues to earn royalties from the sales of her entire catalogue of work.
8. Maria Sharapova, athlete
Sharapova makes most of her money on endorsements, and her $29.7 million income makes her the highest-paid female athlete in the world for the 11th year in a row ($6.7 million comes from prize money). Her sponsorship deals include Nike, Head, Avon Products, Evian, Porsche, and Tag Heuer. She’s also diversified her revenue streams: Sharapova gets income from a candy line (Sugarpova) and a lifestyle app.
9. Jessica Alba, actress and entrepreneur
While 2015 was a relatively quiet year for Alba’s acting career, her business venture The Honest Company soared. It’s predicted to make $250 million in revenue this year alone, and Alba reportedly owns 15 to 20 percent of the company.
10. Lindsey Stirling, YouTube star
Gone are the days when signing a record deal was the only way to make a living in music. The advent of YouTube gave rise to a generation of DIY stars (see: Justin Bieber). Stirling, whose videos of her dancing and playing the violin attract millions of viewers (this one has been viewed 13,924,641 times and counting), brought in $6 million in 2015.