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12.7k voters

The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models

Updated July 9, 2020 125.2k votes 12.7k voters 119.2k views319 items

List RulesInspiring 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.

  • 26
    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, (born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton; 9 January 1982), is a member of the British royal family. Her husband, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is expected to become...  more

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    Melissa Franklin

    Physicist, Scientist

    Age65

    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
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    Melinda Gates

    Co-Founder, Co-Chair

    Age57

    BirthplaceDallas, Texas, USA

    Melinda Ann Gates DBE (née French; August 15, 1964) is an American philanthropist and a former general manager at Microsoft. In 2000, she co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her...  more

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    88
    138

    Shannon May

    Founded Bridge International Academies, the world’s largest private provider of nursery and primary education for families living on $2 a day or less.
    Shannon May (born 9 June 1991) is an Australian football (soccer) player who plays for Australian W-League team Perth Glory.In December 2009, she was awarded the team's Most Glorious Player award -...  more
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    112
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    Kirsten Gillibrand

    Politician, Attorney at law

    Age54

    BirthplaceAlbany, New York, USA

    Moderate Senator - New York
    Kirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand (née Rutnik; (listen) KEER-stən JIL-i-brand; born December 9, 1966) is an American lawyer and politician who has served as the junior United States Senator from New York...  more
  • 31
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    1,461

    Michelle Obama

    First Lady of the United States, Lawyer

    Age57

    BirthplaceChicago, 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

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  • 32
    239
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    Charlene, Princess of Monaco

    Crown Princess, Swimmer

    Age43

    BirthplaceZimbabwe, Bulawayo

    Charlene, Princess of Monaco (née Charlene Lynette Wittstock; French: Charlène; born 25 January 1978) is a Zimbabwean-South African former Olympic swimmer and wife of Prince Albert II. The Princess...  more
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    56
    82

    Pat Summitt

    Basketball Coach, Coach

    Age69

    BirthplaceClarksville, Tennessee

    Patricia Susan Summitt (née Head; June 14, 1952 – June 28, 2016) was an American women's college basketball head coach who accrued 1,098 career wins, the most in college basketball history upon her...  more
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    329
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    Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    First Jewish Female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Second Female Supreme Court Justice

    Age88

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, USA

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg (March 15, 1933-September 18, 2020) was an American lawyer and jurist who was an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and...  more

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  • 35
    191
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    Astrid Benöhr

    Triathlete

    Age63

    BirthplaceBergisch 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.

  • 36
    92
    128

    Padmasree Warrior

    Chief Technology & Strategy Officer of Cisco Systems, Former CTO of Motorola

    Age60

    BirthplaceVijayawada, India

    Padmasree Warrior is the former Chief Executive Officer of NIO U.S. as well as a member of its board of directors. In these capacities, she was responsible for the brains of NIO's autonomous electric...  more
  • 37
    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
  • 38
    173
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    Marissa Mayer

    President and CEO of Yahoo!, Former Executive for Google

    Age46

    BirthplaceWausau, Wisconsin

    Marissa Ann Mayer (; born May 30, 1975) is an American information technology executive, and co-founder of Lumi Labs. Mayer formerly served as the president and chief executive officer of Yahoo!, a...  more
  • 39
    379
    229

    Eleanor Roosevelt

    Politician, Diplomat

    AgeDec. at 78 (1884-1962)

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (; October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) was an American political figure, diplomat and activist. She served as the First Lady of the United States from March 4, 1933 to April...  more

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  • 40
    Grace Avery VanderWaal (born January 15, 2004) is an American singer-songwriter from Suffern, NY. At age 12, she won the 11th season of the NBC competition show America's Got Talent, singing her...  more

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    127
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    Krista Donaldson

    CEO of D-Rev, a not-for-profit based in Silicon Valley that brings medical devices to people living on less than $4 a day.
  • 42
    144
    77

    Sara Blakely

    Businessperson, Entrepreneur

    Age50

    BirthplaceClearwater, Florida, USA

    Sara Treleaven Blakely (born February 27, 1971) is an American billionaire businesswoman, and founder of Spanx, an American intimate apparel company with pants and leggings, founded in Atlanta,...  more
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    Age44

    BirthplaceRolla, 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

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    #216 of 234 The Best Female Athletes of All Time#75 of 91 The Best Olympic Athletes in Artistic Gymnastics

  • 44
    257
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    Jane Austen

    Novelist, Writer

    AgeDec. at 41 (1775-1817)

    BirthplaceSteventon, United Kingdom

    Jane Austen (; 16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of...  more

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    329
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    Sally Ride

    Physicist, Astronaut

    AgeDec. at 61 (1951-2012)

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, California, United States of America

    First American female astronaut.
    Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was an American astronaut and physicist. Born in Los Angeles, she joined NASA in 1978 and became the first American woman in space in 1983. Ride was...  more

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  • 46
    318
    274

    Coco Chanel

    Fashion designer, Designer

    AgeDec. at 87 (1883-1971)

    BirthplaceSaumur, 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

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    173
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    Grace Hopper

    Programmer, Mathematician

    AgeDec. at 85 (1906-1992)

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York

    Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (née Murray December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I...  more
  • 48
    123
    188

    Tory Burch

    Chairman, CEO

    Age55

    BirthplaceValley Forge, Pennsylvania

    Tory Burch is an American fashion designer, business woman, and philanthropist, who has won several fashion awards for her designs. She is the Chairman, CEO, and Designer of Tory Burch LLC. As of...  more
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    AgeDec. at 67 (1912-1979)

    BirthplaceJelenia 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
  • 50
    138
    124

    Sojourner Truth

    Author, Writer

    BirthplaceRifton, 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

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