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

Erica Scheidt
Originally by
59.4k votes 4.3k voters 50k views 280 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.

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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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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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Clara Barton is listed (or ranked) 3 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

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Valentina Tereshkova is listed (or ranked) 4 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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Amelia Earhart is listed (or ranked) 5 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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Your Own Mom is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Your Own Mom

Brag about her. She's great!

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Diana, Princess of Wales is listed (or ranked) 7 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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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

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Elsa Brändström is listed (or ranked) 9 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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Joan of Arc is listed (or ranked) 10 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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Helen Keller is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Helen Keller 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

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Janica Kostelić is listed (or ranked) 12 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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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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Rachel Corrie is listed (or ranked) 14 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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Mother Teresa is listed (or ranked) 15 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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J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 16 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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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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Chris Evert is listed (or ranked) 18 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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Martina Navratilova is listed (or ranked) 19 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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Cleopatra is listed (or ranked) 20 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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Shannon Miller is listed (or ranked) 21 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
Shannon Lee Miller is a former artistic gymnast from Edmond, Oklahoma. She was the 1993 and 1994 World All-Around Champion, the 1996 Olympics balance beam gold medalist, the 1995 Pan Am Games ...more

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Hanna Reitsch is listed (or ranked) 22 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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Serena Williams is listed (or ranked) 23 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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Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 24 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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Queen Máxima of the Netherland... is listed (or ranked) 25 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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Steffi Graf is listed (or ranked) 26 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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Harriet Tubman is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Harriet Tubman Activist, Writer Harriet Tubman was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and during the American Civil War, a Union spy. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made about thirteen missions ...more

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Temple Grandin is listed (or ranked) 28 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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Sally Ride is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Sally Ride 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

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Valentina Lisitsa is listed (or ranked) 30 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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Ellen Ochoa is listed (or ranked) 31 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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Aung San Suu Kyi is listed (or ranked) 32 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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Michelle Obama is listed (or ranked) 33 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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Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 34 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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Leni Riefenstahl is listed (or ranked) 35 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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Elizabeth Warren is listed (or ranked) 36 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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Condoleezza Rice is listed (or ranked) 37 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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Eleanor Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Tom Islava added Eleanor Roosevelt 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

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Loretta Lynn is listed (or ranked) 39 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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Venus Williams is listed (or ranked) 40 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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Melinda Gates is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Melinda Gates Co-Founder, Co-Chair, and Operator of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Melinda French Gates, is an American businessperson and philanthropist. She is the wife of Bill Gates, and the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She worked at Microsoft, ...more

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Ronda Rousey is listed (or ranked) 42 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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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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Eva Perón is listed (or ranked) 44 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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Catherine, Duchess of Cambridg... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Maryellen Elizabeth added Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is the wife of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Following his father Charles, Prince of Wales, William is second in line to succeed his grandmother, Queen ...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 WISE satellite. She previously worked for Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center on the Spitzer Space Telescope. Amy Mainzer is an American astronomer, specializing in astrophysical instrumentation and infrared astronomy. She is the Deputy Project Scientist for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and ...more

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Laura Bush is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Laura Bush Librarian, Author, Teacher Laura Bush is the wife of the forty third President of the United States George W. Bush and the incumbent First Lady of the United States. Born in 1946 in Midland, Texas, Mrs. Bush always had an ...more

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Marion Maréchal-Le Pen is listed (or ranked) 48 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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Melissa Franklin is listed (or ranked) 49 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 Melissa Eve Bronwen Franklin is an experimental particle physicist and the Department Chair and Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University. While working at the Fermi National ...more

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Gabrielle Giffords is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Gabrielle Giffords Former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona's 8th District, Third Woman in Arizona's History to be Elected to the U.S. Congress Gabrielle Dee "Gabby" Giffords is a retired American politician from the U.S. state of Arizona. As a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, she represented ...more