feminism The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models  

Erica Scheidt
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48.8k votes 3.4k voters 22.4k views 178 items Embed

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

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Marie Curie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
natalie-greenly added Marie Curie 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

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822 439
Jane Goodall is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Jane Goodall 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

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511 391
Valentina Tereshkova is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
ElijahKaganer added Valentina Tereshkova 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

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263 193
Clara Barton is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
but chickens double d added Clara Barton 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

5
312 171
Elsa Brändström is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Elsa Brändström Elsa Brändström was a Swedish nurse and philanthropist. She was known around the world as the "Angel of Siberia".

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Diana, Princess of Wales is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Diana, Princess of Wales 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

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550 166
Janica Kostelić is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Magdalena Linde added Janica Kostelić 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

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224 93
Florence Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Florence Nightingale 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
324 382
Rachel Corrie is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Rachel Corrie 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

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104 27
Amelia Earhart is listed (or ranked) 10 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

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Joan of Arc is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Joan of Arc 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

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Your Mom is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Your Mom I think everyone can honestly say their mom is an inspiration. My mom sure is. She is 99 years old and is taking college classes, writing poetry and writing stories for her assisted living place's newsletter. Everyone can brag ...

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Malala Yousafzai is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Malala Yousafzai 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

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Helen Keller is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Helen Keller Pacifist, Lecturer, Author - American author, political activist and lecturer.

15
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Martina Navratilova is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
BenNicholson added Martina Navratilova 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

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Hanna Reitsch is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Odysseus added Hanna Reitsch Pilot - Hanna Reitsch was a German aviatrix, Nazi test pilot, and the only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class and the Luftwaffe Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds during World War II. She ...more

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Charlene, Princess of Monaco is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Heros Deus added Charlene, Princess of Monaco 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

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Shannon Miller is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Dave_7672 added Shannon Miller Gymnast - 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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Queen Máxima of the Netherland... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Queen Máxima of the Netherlands Queen Máxima of the Netherlands is the wife of King Willem-Alexander. On 30 April 2013, she became the first Dutch queen consort since 1890.

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Chris Evert is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Chris Evert 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

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Steffi Graf is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
BenNicholson added Steffi Graf 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

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J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
J. K. Rowling 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

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Valentina Lisitsa is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Amicus73 added Valentina Lisitsa Pianist - Valentina Lisitsa is a Ukrainian-American classical pianist who resides in North Carolina. Lisitsa is among the most frequently viewed pianists on YouTube and is often praised as a highly ...more

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Leni Riefenstahl is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Odysseus added Leni Riefenstahl Actor, Dancer, Film Director - Helene Bertha Amalie "Leni" Riefenstahl was a German film director, producer, screenwriter, editor, photographer, actress and dancer widely known for directing the Nazi propaganda film ...more

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Serena Williams is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Serena Williams 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

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Temple Grandin is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Temple Grandin Animal Expert and Advocate, Bestselling Author, Autistic Activist - Mary Temple Grandin is an American professor of animal science at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, an autistic activist, and a consultant to the livestock industry on animal ...more

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Aung San Suu Kyi is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Aung San Suu Kyi Chairperson and General Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Burma, 1991 Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 2012 Recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal - Aung San Suu Kyi AC is a Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma. In the 1990 general election, the NLD won 59% of the national votes and 81% ...more

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Marion Maréchal-Le Pen is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Mollevangsvagen added Marion Maréchal-Le Pen Politician - Marion Maréchal-Le Pen is a French politician, a member of the Front National and an MP for Vaucluse's 3rd constituency since 2012. Twenty-two years old at the time of her election, she ...more

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Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Mollevangsvagen added Queen Victoria Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India. Victoria was the ...more

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Cleopatra is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Cleopatra Cleopatra VII Philopator, known to history simply as "Cleopatra", was the last active pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, only shortly survived by her son, Caesarion as pharaoh. Cleopatra was a ...more

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Ronda Rousey is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
DaveHoffman added Ronda Rousey Mixed Martial Artist, Actor - Ronda Jean Rousey is an American mixed martial artist, judoka and actress. She is the first and current UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, as well as the last Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight ...more

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Ellen Ochoa is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Ellen Ochoa World's First Hispanic Female Astronaut, First Hispanic and Second Female Director of NASA's Johnson Space Center - Ellen Lauri Ochoa is a former astronaut and current Director of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa became director of the center upon retirement of the previous director, Michael Coats, on December ...more

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Vanessa Mae is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Amicus73 added Vanessa Mae

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Elizabeth Warren is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Elizabeth Warren First Female Senator from Massachusetts, Former Special Advisor for the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Former Chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Panel - Elizabeth Ann Warren is an American academic and politician who is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. She was previously a Harvard Law ...more

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Mother Teresa is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Mother Teresa 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

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Venus Williams is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Venus Williams Current No. 11 in Women's Singles Tennis, First African American Woman to be Ranked No. 1, Multiple Record Holder in Female Tennis - Venus Ebony Starr Williams is an American professional tennis player who is a former World No. 1 and is ranked World No. 11 in singles as of February 1, 2015. She has been ranked World No. 1 in ...more

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Holly Holm is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Mollevangsvagen added Holly Holm Professional Boxer - Holly Holm is an American mixed martial artist who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight division. Holm is also a former professional boxer and kickboxer. During her boxing ...more

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Sally McLellan is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Sally McLellan Athlete, Track and field athlete - Sally Pearson is an Australian athlete. She is the 2011 World champion and 2012 Olympic champion in the 100 metres hurdles. She also won a silver medal in the 100 m hurdles at the 2008 Summer ...more

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Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Virginia Woolf Novelist, Author, Writer - Adeline Virginia Woolf was an English writer and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society ...more

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Loretta Lynn is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Mollevangsvagen added Loretta Lynn Songwriter, Singer-songwriter, Author - Loretta Lynn, is a multiple gold album American country music singer-songwriter whose work spans more than 50 years. She has received numerous awards and other accolades for her groundbreaking ...more

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Dafne Schippers is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
BenNicholson added Dafne Schippers Track and field athlete - Dafne Schippers is a Dutch athlete competing in heptathlon and the sprints.

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Melissa Franklin is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
DaveHoffman added Melissa Franklin Physicist, Scientist - Experimental particle physicist and the Department Chair and Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University

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Paula Radcliffe is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
BenNicholson added Paula Radcliffe Track and field athlete - Paula Jane Radcliffe, MBE is an English long-distance runner. She is the current women's world record holder in the marathon with her time of 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds. She is a ...more

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Marissa Mayer is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Marissa Mayer President and CEO of Yahoo!, Former Executive for Google, First Female Engineer for Google - Marissa Ann Mayer is the current president and CEO of Yahoo!, a position she has held since July 2012. Previously, she was a long-time executive, usability leader, and key spokesperson for ...more

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Eva Perón is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Eva Perón Politician, Actor - María Eva Duarte de Perón was the second wife of Argentine President Juan Perón and served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She is usually ...more

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Amy Mainzer is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
DaveHoffman added Amy Mainzer Astronomer - Research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Working on the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), the Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam), and NEOWISE mission to study asteroids and comets using the reactivated ...

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Condoleezza Rice is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Condoleezza Rice First Female African-American Secretary of State, Second Female Secretary of State, Former National Security Advisor - Condoleezza "Condi" Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the ...more

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Anne Morrow Lindbergh is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Mollevangsvagen added Anne Morrow Lindbergh Pilot, Poet, Author - Anne Morrow Lindbergh was an American author, aviator, and the wife of fellow aviator Charles Lindbergh. She was an acclaimed author whose books and articles spanned the genres of poetry to ...more

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Michelle Obama is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Michelle Obama First Lady of the United States, Lawyer - Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is an American lawyer and writer. She is the wife of the 44th and current President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the first African-American First Lady ...more

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Ann Coulter is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Ann Coulter Commentator, Author, Writer - Ann Hart Coulter is an American conservative social and political commentator, writer, syndicated columnist, and lawyer. She frequently appears on television, radio, and as a speaker at public ...more