Feminism

The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models  

Erica Scheidt
Originally by
80.6k votes 5.8k voters 86.7k views 269 items

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.

list ordered by
1
Marie Curie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
natalie-greenly added Physicist, Chemist, Scientist
Marie Skłodowska-Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first ...more
2
Jane Goodall is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Anthropologist, Researcher, Primatologist
Dame Jane Morris Goodall, DBE is an English primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. Considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best ...more
3
Amelia Earhart is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Amelia Earhart Pilot, Writer
Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for ...more
4
Valentina Tereshkova is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
ElijahKaganer added Pilot, Politician, Astronaut
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. In ...more
5
Clara Barton is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
but chickens double d added Nurse, Nursing, Teacher
Clarissa Harlowe "Clara" Barton was a pioneer nurse who founded the American Red Cross. In addition to being a hospital nurse, she worked as a teacher, patent clerk, and humanitarian. ...more
6
Diana, Princess of Wales is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Crown Princess
Diana, Princess of Wales, was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, who is the eldest child and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II. Diana was born into an aristocratic British family with ...more
7
Your Own Mom is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Your Own Mom

Brag about her. She's great!

8
Florence Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Nurse, Statistical graphics, Nursing
Florence Nightingale, OM, RRC was a celebrated English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. She came to prominence while serving as a manager of nurses trained by ...more
9
Helen Keller is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Pacifist, Lecturer, Author
American author, political activist and lecturer. Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. The story of how Keller's teacher, Anne ...more
10
Joan of Arc is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Military Leader
Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans", is considered a heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. She was born to Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle, a peasant family, at ...more
11
Elsa Brändström is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added
Elsa Brändström was a Swedish nurse and philanthropist. She was known around the world as the "Angel of Siberia".
12
Malala Yousafzai is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Female education activist, Nobel Prize laureate
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known mainly for human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native ...more
13
Harriet Tubman is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Activist, Writer
Harriet Tubman was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, a Union spy. Tubman escaped and subsequently made about thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy families and friends, ...more
14
Rachel Corrie is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Peace activist
Rachel Aliene Corrie was an American peace activist and diarist. She was killed by an Israel Defense Forces armored bulldozer in a combat zone in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, ...more
15
Mother Teresa is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Nun, Teacher
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, MC, commonly known as Mother Teresa, was a Roman Catholic religious sister and missionary who lived most of her life in India. She was born in today's Macedonia, with ...more
16
Janica Kostelić is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Magdalena Linde added Alpine skier
Janica Kostelić is a former World Cup alpine ski racer and four-time Olympic gold medalist from Croatia. In addition to the Olympics, she won five gold medals at the World Championships. In ...more
17
Serena Williams is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Current No. 1 in Women's Singles Tennis, Oldest No. 1 in WTA History, Multiple Record Holder for Female Tennis
Serena Jameka Williams is an American professional tennis player who is currently ranked No. 1 in women's singles tennis. The Women's Tennis Association has ranked her World No. 1 in singles on ...more
18
J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Author of the "Harry Potter" series, UK's Best-Selling Living Author
Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE FRSL, pen names J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. The books have gained ...more
19
Steffi Graf is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
BenNicholson added Tennis player
Stefanie Maria "Steffi" Graf is a German former world No. 1 tennis player. Graf won 22 Grand Slam singles titles. Her 22 singles titles is second all time behind Margaret Court, and ...more
20
Michelle Obama is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
First Lady of the United States, Lawyer
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is an American lawyer, university administrator, and writer who served as the First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She is married to the 44th U.S. ...more
21
Martina Navratilova is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
BenNicholson added Tennis player
Martina Navratilova is a retired Czech and American tennis player and coach. Billie Jean King, former World No. 1 player, said in 2006 that Navratilova is "the greatest singles, doubles and ...more
22
Sally Ride is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Physicist, Astronaut
First American female astronaut. Sally Kristen Ride was an American physicist and astronaut. Born in Los Angeles, Ride joined NASA in 1978 and, at the age of 32, became the first American woman in space and still remains the ...more
23
Chris Evert is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Tennis player, Actor
Christine Marie "Chris" Evert, known as Chris Evert-Lloyd from 1979 to 1987, is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player from the United States. She won 18 Grand Slam singles ...more
24
Eleanor Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Tom Islava added Politician, Diplomat, Author
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was an American politician, diplomat, and activist. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, holding the post from March 1933 to April 1945 during her ...more
25
Charlene, Princess of Monaco is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Heros Deus added Crown Princess, Swimmer
Charlene Lynette Wittstock, is a former South African Olympic swimmer who, after marrying Prince Albert II, became Princess of Monaco. Charlene is the daughter of Michael and Lynette Wittstock. ...more