The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models

List Rules
Inspiring professional women who are at the top of their fields. Only remarkable, positive female role models who don't primarily work in Hollywood (TV journalists are okay).

Who run the world? Girls! After compiling this list, we're positive that ladies all over the planet are kicking ass and taking names in almost every field nowadays, sorry not sorry. The amazing female role models on this list are inspiring examples of powerful females, killing it at the tops of their fields and in the trenches, helping to make the world a better place for everyone, but especially for women and girls all over the world. After all, there are presidential candidates, hard-hitting journalists, countless female CEOs and CFOs of major corporations, and a teenage girl who is on the fast track to becoming an MLB superstar. Who are the most inspiring female role models in the world today?

Though we tried our best to list as many inspirational women as possible, we're sure we missed some ladies you might look up to, so be sure to add them and rerank this list. Of all these awesome female role models from around the world, which ones inspires you the most? Which of these ladies motivated you to choose your career? Which one of these amazing female role models makes you want to pursue your dreams?  

After seeing all these awesome female role models together on one list, you'll be more inspired that ever to conquer anything! Vote up the women who inspire you the most and add any other inspirational women, successful women, and strong female role models you think girls and women the world over should know about.

Ranked by
  • Astrid Benöhr
    31
    Triathlete
    245 votes
    • Age: 65
    • Birthplace: Bergisch Gladbach, Germany

    Toughest woman in the world. Holds several world records in Triple Ultra Triathlon  (3 times the Ironman distance) and won that competition at every event from 1992 - 2006! Also holds the absolute world record in Ironman * 10 (38km swimming, 1800 km cycling and 422 km running) with 7 d 19 h 8 min 23 sec.

  • Mary Shelley
    32
    Editor, Biographer, Novelist
    187 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 53 (1797-1851)
    • Birthplace: Somers Town, London, London, United Kingdom
    Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (UK: , US: ; née Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist who wrote the Gothic novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also ...more
  • Maria von Trapp
    33
    Governess, Singer
    156 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 82 (1905-1987)
    • Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
    Baroness Maria Augusta von Trapp DHS (née Kutschera; 26 January 1905 – 28 March 1987) was the stepmother and matriarch of the Trapp Family Singers. She wrote The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, ...more
  • Michelle Obama
    34
    First Lady of the United States, Lawyer
    2,034 votes
    • Age: 59
    • Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA
    Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (née Robinson; born January 17, 1964) is an American lawyer, university administrator and writer, who was the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She ...more
  • Ada Lovelace
    35
    Programmer, Mathematician, Computer scientist
    141 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 36 (1815-1852)
    • Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
    Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (née Byron; 10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical ...more
  • Julia Child
    36
    Cook, Copywriter, TV chef
    191 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 91 (1912-2004)
    • Birthplace: Pasadena, California, United States of America
    Julia Carolyn Child (née McWilliams; August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004) was an American chef, author and television personality. She is recognized for bringing French cuisine to the American public ...more
  • Chris Evert
    37
    Tennis player, Actor
    664 votes
    • Age: 68
    • Birthplace: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States of America
    Christine Marie Evert (born December 21, 1954), known as Chris Evert Lloyd from 1979 to 1987, is a retired American World No. 1 tennis player. She won 18 Grand Slam singles championships and three ...more
  • Coco Chanel
    38
    Fashion designer, Designer, Costume Designer
    536 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 87 (1883-1971)
    • Birthplace: Saumur, France
    Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel (19 August 1883 – 10 January 1971) was a French fashion designer, businesswoman, and Nazi collaborator. The founder and namesake of the Chanel brand, she was credited ...more
  • Rachel Carson
    39
    Marine biologist, Biologist, Conservationist
    67 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 56 (1907-1964)
    • Birthplace: Springdale, Pennsylvania
    Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global ...more
  • Lisa Randall
    40
    Physicist, Professor
    406 votes
    • Age: 60
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York
    Ttheoretical physicist and leading expert on particle physics and cosmology.
    Lisa Randall (born June 18, 1962) is an American theoretical physicist working in particle physics and cosmology. She is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science on the physics faculty of Harvard ...more
  • Temple Grandin
    41

    Temple Grandin

    Animal Expert and Advocate, Bestselling Author, Autistic Activist
    617 votes
    • Age: 75
    • Birthplace: Boston, USA, Massachusetts
    Mary Temple Grandin (born August 29, 1947) is an American professor of animal science at Colorado State University, consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, and autism spokesperson. ...more
  • Serena Williams
    42
    Current No. 1 in Women's Singles Tennis, Oldest No. 1 in WTA History, Multiple Record Holder for Female Tennis
    1,432 votes
    • Age: 41
    • Birthplace: Saginaw, Michigan, United States of America
    Serena Jameka Williams (born September 26, 1981) is an American professional tennis player and former world No. 1. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) ranked her world No. 1 in singles on eight ...more
  • Mae Jemison
    43
    Professor, Astronaut, Scientist
    495 votes
    • Age: 66
    • Birthplace: Decatur, Alabama, USA
    First African American woman in space on space shuttle Endeavor. Then founded her own company, the Jemison Group, seeking to encourage a love of science in students and bring advanced technology around the world.
  • Sojourner Truth
    44

    Sojourner Truth

    Author, Writer, Domestic worker
    234 votes
    • Birthplace: Rifton, New York
    Sojourner Truth (; born Isabella [Belle] Baumfree; c. 1797 – November 26, 1883) was an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster ...more
  • Valentina Lisitsa
    45

    Valentina Lisitsa

    Pianist
    557 votes
    • Age: 53
    • Birthplace: Kiev, Ukrainian SSR
    Valentina Lisitsa (Ukrainian: Валенти́на Євге́нівна Лиси́ця, romanized: Valentyna Èvhénivna Lysycja, IPA: [βɐlenˈtɪnɐ eu̯ˈɦɛnʲeu̯nɐ leˈsɪtsʲɐ], Russian: Валентина Евгеньевна Лисица, romanized: ...more
  • Edith Cavell
    46
    281 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 49 (1865-1915)
    • Birthplace: Swardeston, United Kingdom
    Edith Louisa Cavell (; 4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915) was a British nurse. She is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides without discrimination and in helping some 200 Triple ...more
  • Coretta Scott King
    47
    Civil rights activist, Author, Singer
    265 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 78 (1927-2006)
    • Birthplace: Heiberger, Alabama, United States of America
    Coretta Scott King (née Scott; April 27, 1927 – January 30, 2006) was an American author, activist, civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King Jr. An active advocate for African-American ...more
  • Bea Uusma
    48

    Bea Uusma

    213 votes
    Brave Swedish polar explorer.
    Mari Beatrice Uusma was the wife of Henrik Schyffert.
  • Rachel Corrie
    49
    Peace activist
    857 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 23 (1979-2003)
    • Birthplace: Olympia, Washington
    Rachel Aliene Corrie (April 10, 1979 – March 16, 2003) was an American activist and diarist. She was a member of a pro-Palestinian group called the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). She was ...more
  • Hanna Reitsch
    50
    551 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 67 (1912-1979)
    • Birthplace: Jelenia Góra, Poland
    Hanna Reitsch (29 March 1912 – 24 August 1979) was a German aviatrix and test pilot. During the Nazi era, she and Melitta von Stauffenberg flight tested many of the regime's new aircraft. She set ...more
  • J. K. Rowling
    51
    Author of the "Harry Potter" series, UK's Best-Selling Living Author
    1,654 votes
    • Age: 57
    • Birthplace: Yate, United Kingdom
    Joanne Rowling ( "rolling"; born 31 July 1965), better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British novelist, screenwriter, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known for writing the Harry ...more
  • Ellen Ochoa
    52
    World's First Hispanic Female Astronaut, First Hispanic and Second Female Director of NASA's Johnson Space Center
    766 votes
    • Age: 64
    • Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
    Ellen O. Ochoa (born May 10, 1958) is an American engineer, former astronaut and former Director of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa became director of the center upon the retirement of the previous ...more
  • Shannon Miller
    53
    551 votes
    • Age: 45
    • Birthplace: Rolla, Missouri, United States of America
    Cancer survivor, 7 time Olympic medalist, runs Shannon Miller Lifestyle which is targeted to women with a focus on health and wellness, it includes the topics of fitness, nutrition, pregnancy, motherhood, and cancer awareness
  • Sappho
    54
    Lyric poet
    261 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 55 (624 BC-569 BC)
    • Birthplace: Lesbos, Greece
    Sappho (; Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω Psáppho; c. 630 – c. 570 BC) was an Archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. Sappho is known for her lyric poetry, written to be sung while accompanied by a lyre. In ...more
  • Queen Máxima of the Netherlands (born Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti; 17 May 1971) is an Argentine-Dutch royal who is the wife of King Willem-Alexander. On 30 April 2013, she became the first queen ...more
    • Age: Dec. at 64 (1929-1994)
    • Birthplace: Southampton, New York, United States of America
    Jacqueline Lee Kennedy Onassis (née Bouvier ; July 28, 1929 – May 19, 1994) was First Lady of the United States during the presidency of John F. Kennedy and was regarded then and afterward as an ...more
  • Catherine, Princess of Wales, GCVO (born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton; 9 January 1982)[1] is a member of the British royal family. She is married to William, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the ...more
  • Queen Victoria
    58
    Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the ...more
  • Hedy Lamarr
    59
    Pin-up girl, Inventor, Scientist
    152 votes
    • Age: Dec. at 85 (1914-2000)
    • Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
    Hedy Lamarr (), born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler; November 9, 1914 – January 19, 2000) was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor.After a brief early film career in Czechoslovakia, ...more
  • Melissa Franklin
    60
    Physicist, Scientist
    456 votes
    • Age: 67
    Experimental particle physicist and the Department Chair and Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University
    Melissa Eve Bronwen Franklin (born September 30, 1956) is an experimental particle physicist and the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics, and the former physics department chair, at Harvard University. ...more