Feminism

The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models  

Erica Scheidt
Originally by
83k votes 6k voters 92.6k views 322 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 ( 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
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 (; 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
3
Amelia Earhart is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Pilot, Writer
Amelia Mary Earhart (, born July 24, 1897; disappeared July 2, 1937) was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She ...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 (Russian: Валентина Владимировна Терешкова, IPA: [vɐlʲɪnʲˈtʲinə vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvnə tʲɪrʲɪʂˈkovə] (listen); born 6 March 1937) is a member of the Russian State ...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 Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was a pioneering American nurse who founded the American Red Cross. She was a hospital nurse in the American Civil War, a teacher, ...more
6
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!

7
Diana, Princess of Wales is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Crown Princess
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
8
Helen Keller is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
MoonshadowRachel added Pacifist, Lecturer, Author
American author, political activist and lecturer. Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The story of ...more
9
Florence Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Nurse, Statistical graphics, Nursing
Florence Nightingale, (; 12 May 1820 – 13 August 1910) was an English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a ...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 (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
11
Elsa Brändström is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added
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).
12
Harriet Tubman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Activist, Writer
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
13
Malala Yousafzai is listed (or ranked) 13 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
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 (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
15
Mother Teresa is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Nun, Teacher
Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu (born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, Albanian: [aˈɲɛzə ˈɡɔndʒɛ bɔjaˈdʒiu]; 26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), commonly known as Mother Teresa and honoured in the Roman ...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 (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
17
J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Author of the "Harry Potter" series, UK's Best-Selling Living Author
Joanne Rowling ( "rolling"; born 31 July 1965), better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British novelist, screenwriter, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known for ...more
18
Serena Williams is listed (or ranked) 18 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 (born September 26, 1981) is an American professional tennis player and former world No. 1. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) ranked her world No. 1 in singles on eight ...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 (German pronunciation: [ˈʃtɛfiː ˈɡʁaːf]; born 14 June 1969) is a German former professional tennis player. She was ranked world No. 1 and won 22 Grand Slam ...more
20
Eleanor Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Tom Islava added Politician, Diplomat, Author
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 ...more
21
Sally Ride is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Physicist, Astronaut
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 ...more
22
Michelle Obama is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
First Lady of the United States, Lawyer
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
23
Martina Navratilova is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
BenNicholson added Tennis player
Martina Navratilova (Czech: Martina Navrátilová pronounced [mar'cɪna navˈraːcɪlovaː]; born Martina Šubertová pronounced [ˈmarcɪna ˈʃubɛrtovaː]; October 18, 1956) is a ...more
24
Chris Evert is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Tennis player, Actor
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
25
Cleopatra is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added
Cleopatra VII Philopator (Koinē Greek: Κλεοπᾰ́τρᾱ Φιλοπάτωρ, romanized: Kleopátrā Philopátōr; 69 – 10 or 12 August 30 BC) was the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of ...more