Feminism

The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models 

Erica Scheidt
Originally by
Updated July 9, 2020 106k votes 9.2k voters 107.2k views 319 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
Janica Kostelić is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Magdalena Linde added Alpine skier

Age: 37

Birthplace: Zagreb, Croatia

Janica Kostelić (Croatian pronunciation: [janitsa kǒstelitɕ]; born 5 January 1982) is a former World Cup alpine ski racer and four-time Olympic gold medalist from Croatia. In addition to the ...more

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#271 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #2 of 219 The Best Female Athletes of All Time #1 of 62 The Greatest Alpine Skiers of All Time

2
Marie Curie is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
natalie-greenly added Physicist, Chemist, Scientist

Age: Dec. at 67 (1867-1934)

Birthplace: Warsaw, Second Polish Republic

Marie Skłodowska Curie ( KEWR-ee, French: [kyʁi], Polish: [kʲiˈri]; born Maria Salomea Skłodowska; 7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who ...more

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12 Things About Marie Curie That Prove She's One of the Most Influential Women Ever #47 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #10 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time

3
Elsa Brändströ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added

Age: Dec. at 60 (1888-1948)

Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia

Elsa Brändström (26 March 1888 – 4 March 1948) was a Swedish nurse and philanthropist. She was known as the "Angel of Siberia" (German: Engel von Sibirien).
4
Valentina Tereshkova is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
ElijahKaganer added Pilot, Politician, Astronaut

Age: 81

Birthplace: Bolshoye Maslennikovo, Russia

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (Russian: Валентина Владимировна Терешкова, IPA: [vɐlʲɪnʲˈtʲinə vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvnə tʲɪrʲɪʂˈkovə] (listen); born 6 March 1937) is a member of the Russian State ...more
5
Jane Goodall is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Anthropologist, Researcher, Primatologist

Age: 84

Birthplace: London, United Kingdom

Dame Jane Morris Goodall (; born Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall on 3 April 1934), formerly Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall, is an English primatologist and anthropologist. Considered to be the ...more

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#160 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time #508 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time #9 of 266 The Most Powerful Women Of All Time

6
Chris Evert is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Tennis player, Actor

Age: 64

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 ...more

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#42 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #227 of 574 American Public Figures Who Are National Treasureslisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

7
Hanna Reitsch is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Odysseus added Pilot

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 ...more

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#399 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #137 of 452 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person

8
Joan of Arc is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Military Leader

Age: Dec. at 19 (1412-1431)

Birthplace: Domrémy-la-Pucelle, France

Joan of Arc (in French Jeanne d'Arc pronounced [ʒan daʁk]; c. 1412 – 30 May 1431), nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" (French: La Pucelle d'Orléans), is considered a heroine ...more

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#66 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #291 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time #98 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time

9
Ronda Rousey is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
DaveHoffman added Mixed Martial Artist, Actor

Age: 32

Birthplace: California, United States of America

Ronda Jean Rousey (; born February 1, 1987) is an American professional wrestler, actress, author, and former mixed martial artist and judoka. She is currently signed to WWE, and performs on the ...more

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22 Hardcore Facts About Ronda Rousey #517 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #204 of 424 Famous Women You'd Want to Have a Beer With

10
Paula Radcliffe is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
BenNicholson added Track and field athlete

Age: 45

Birthplace: Davenham, United Kingdom

Paula Jane Radcliffe, MBE (born 17 December 1973) is a British long-distance runner. She is a three-time winner of the London Marathon (2002, 2003, 2005), three-time New York Marathon champion ...more
11
Catherine, Duchess of Ca... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Maryellen Elizabeth added

Age: 37

Birthplace: Royal Berkshire Hospital, United Kingdom

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 ...more

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A Day In The Life Of William And Kate #59 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #48 of 424 Famous Women You'd Want to Have a Beer With

12
Kristina Söderbaum ... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Actor, Photographer

Age: Dec. at 89 (1912-2001)

Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden

Beata Margareta Kristina Söderbaum (5 September 1912 – 12 February 2001) was a Swedish-born German film actress, producer, and photographer. She is most known for her roles in National ...more
13
Astrid Benöhr is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
numasan added Triathlete

Age: 61

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.

14
Bianca Kappler is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Ronu771 added

Age: 41

Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany

A symbol of fair play in sports.
Bianca Kappler (born 8 August 1977) is a German long jumper.
15
Harriet Tubman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Activist, Writer

Birthplace: Maryland

Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross, c. March 1822 – March 10, 1913) was an American abolitionist and political activist. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen ...more

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17 Things You Didn't Know About Harriet Tubman #171 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #90 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time

16
Diana, Princess of Wales... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Crown Princess

Age: Dec. at 36 (1961-1997)

Birthplace: Sandringham, United Kingdom

Diana, Princess of Wales (born Diana Frances Spencer; 1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997), was a member of the British royal family. She was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, and the mother ...more

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17
Temple Grandin is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Temple Grandin Animal Expert and Advocate, Bestselling Author, Autistic Activist

Age: 71

Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

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 ...more

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#637 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time #780 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time #105 of 232 The Best Female Authors of All Time

18
Susan B. Anthony is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Spencer Semonson added Women's rights activist

Age: Dec. at 86 (1820-1906)

Birthplace: Adams, Massachusetts

Susan B. Anthony (February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906) was an American social reformer and women's rights activist who played a pivotal role in the women's suffrage movement. Born into a Quaker ...more

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#37 of 433 The Most Important Leaders in U.S. History #665 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time #111 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time

19
Your Own Mom is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Your Own Mom

Brag about her. She's great!

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

Age: 55

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

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 ...more

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#44 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #1,280 of 1,344 The Greatest Minds of All Time #1,672 of 2,437 The Most Influential People of All Time

21
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Spencer Semonson added Poet, Novelist, Screenwriter

Age: Dec. at 86 (1890-1976)

Birthplace: Torquay, United Kingdom

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer. She is known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story ...more

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The Best Agatha Christie Books of All Time The Best Movies Based on Agatha Christie Stories #80 of 1,173 The Best Writers of All Time

22
Martina Navratilova is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
BenNicholson added Tennis player

Age: 62

Birthplace: Prague, Czech Republic

Martina Navratilova (Czech: Martina Navrátilová pronounced [mar'cɪna navˈraːcɪlovaː]; born Martina Šubertová pronounced [ˈmarcɪna ˈʃubɛrtovaː]; October 18, 1956) is a ...more

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#19 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #381 of 574 American Public Figures Who Are National Treasures #1 of 219 The Best Female Athletes of All Time

23
Holly Holm is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Mollevangsvagen added Professional Boxer

Age: 37

Birthplace: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Holly Rene Holm (born October 17, 1981) is an American mixed martial artist who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. She is the former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, and a former ...more

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#365 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time #72 of 219 The Best Female Athletes of All Time #431 of 670 Rank the Sexiest Current Female Athletes

24
Edith Cavell is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Nurse

Age: Dec. at 50 (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 ...more
25
Rachel Corrie is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Peace activist

Age: Dec. at 24 (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 ...more

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#133 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive #51 of 403 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person