Rounding out this year’s top 10 highest paid CEOs is Martine Rothblatt, according to The New York Times. The next woman on the list is Yahoo President and CEO Marissa A. Mayer, 24 slots below Rothblatt to be exact and earning roughly $13 million less. Only 11 females made the list of top 200 CEOs in 2014.
While this is a stunning achievement in the efforts to bridge the gender gap, Rothblatt confessed to New York Magazine, “I can’t claim that what I have achieved is equivalent to what a woman has achieved. For the first half of my life, I was male.”
Martine–formerly Martin–Rothblatt is a transgender woman, and that’s the least interesting thing about her. In 1994, Rothblatt underwent sex reassignment surgery to transition from male to female. While she prefers her family to call her Martine in public, her four children still call her Dad at home. (Their children call her Grand Martine.) It seems only fitting that her early success was in developing and implementing the satellite radio industry–Rothblatt’s vision has always seemed otherworldly to outsiders.
Rothblatt shifted her focus from satellite technology to life sciences when her youngest daughter Jenesis was diagnosed with a lethal disease, primary pulmonary hypertension. Like any good visionary, or parent for that matter, Rothblatt began looking for a cure. Unfortunately, there were only limited treatments for this rare disease, so she took her daughter’s fate into her own hands and developed United Therapeutics. This was no vanity effort: Rothblatt hired a staff to take a drug formerly unapproved by the FDA and create a treatment that would prolong and vastly improve the quality of Jenesis’ life and others suffering from similar diseases. Rothblatt now serves as CEO of United Therapeutics, and this mission to save her daughter landed her in the top 10 CEOs this year, now that the drug has received FDA approval.
This is only one of many advances under Rothblatt’s purview. She’s also working on ex-vivo transplantation, creating a stable supply line of porcine parts to forgo the need for a human organ transplant list altogether. She even received her helicopter license so that, when approved, she can transport organs as quickly as possible to terminally ill patients.
In addition to her wife of 33 years, Bina Aspen, and their four children, the Rothblatt family has another notable member: Bina48.