Feminism

The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models 

Erica Scheidt
Originally by
Updated October 6, 2019 87.8k votes 6.6k voters 99.4k views 316 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

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

More Marie Curie 

12 Things About Marie Curie That Prove She's One of the Most Influential Women Ever #49 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #5 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time

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

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

More Jane Goodall 

#641 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #36 of 452 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person #161 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

3
Diana, Princess of Wales... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Becks Tora added Crown Princess

Age: Dec. at 36 (1961-1997)

Birthplace: Sandringham, England

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

More Diana, Princess of Wales 

The Most Shocking Details Princess Diana's Butler Has Alleged About Her Life #8 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #7 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive

4
Amelia Earhart is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Pilot, Writer

Birthplace: Atchison, Kansas

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

More Amelia Earhart 

Incredible Facts About The Daring Life Of Amelia Earhart #59 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #345 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time

5
Valentina Tereshkova is listed (or ranked) 5 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
6
Helen Keller is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
MoonshadowRachel added Pacifist, Lecturer, Author

Age: Dec. at 88 (1880-1968)

Birthplace: Tuscumbia, United States of America, Alabama, Colbert County

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

More Helen Keller 

14 Surprising Facts About Helen Keller That They Don't Teach You In School #171 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #331 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time

7
Joan of Arc is listed (or ranked) 7 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

More Joan of Arc 

#65 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #76 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #115 of 452 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person

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

Age: Dec. at 90 (1820-1910)

Birthplace: Florence, Italy

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
9
Clara Barton is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
but chickens double d added Nurse, Nursing, Teacher

Age: Dec. at 91 (1821-1912)

Birthplace: Oxford, Massachusetts

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

More Clara Barton 

11 Hardcore Facts About Clara Barton, The Founder Of The American Red Cross #306 of 452 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person #53 of 267 The Most Powerful Women Of All Time

10
Elsa Brändströ... is listed (or ranked) 10 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).
11
Malala Yousafzai is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Female education activist, Nobel Prize laureate

Age: 21

Birthplace: Mingora, Pakistan

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

More Malala Yousafzai 

#761 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #37 of 267 The Most Powerful Women Of All Time #5 of 19 19 Things People Accomplished When They Were Teenagers

12
Harriet Tubman is listed (or ranked) 12 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

More Harriet Tubman 

17 Things You Didn't Know About Harriet Tubman #172 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #122 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time

13
Janica Kostelić is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Magdalena Linde added Alpine skier

Age: 37

Birthplace: Zagreb, Yugoslavia

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

More Janica Kostelić 

#20 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #20 of 229 The Best Female Athletes of All Time #2 of 74 The Greatest Alpine Skiers of All Time

14
Sally Ride is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Physicist, Astronaut

Age: Dec. at 61 (1951-2012)

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America

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

More Sally Ride 

#178 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #5 of 19 The Greatest Renaissance Women in American History #28 of 45 The Hottest Lady Astronauts In NASA History

15
Mother Teresa is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Nun, Teacher

Age: Dec. at 87 (1910-1997)

Birthplace: Skopje, Yugoslavia

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

More Mother Teresa 

Disturbing Facts and Stories That Will Change How You See Mother Teresa #41 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #64 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time

16
Hanna Reitsch is listed (or ranked) 16 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

More Hanna Reitsch 

#388 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #136 of 452 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person

17
Michelle Obama is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
First Lady of the United States, Lawyer

Age: 55

Birthplace: Chicago metropolitan area, Illinois, Chicago, United States of America, United States, + more

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

More Michelle Obama 

#47 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #1,905 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #138 of 471 Famous Women You'd Want to Have a Beer With

18
Catherine, Duchess of Ca... is listed (or ranked) 18 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

More Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge 

A Day In The Life Of William And Kate #63 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #39 of 364 The Most Beautiful Women Of 2020, Ranked

19
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Coolza added Novelist, Author, Writer

Age: Dec. at 59 (1882-1941)

Birthplace: Kensington, London, United Kingdom

Adeline Virginia Woolf (; née Stephen; 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English writer, considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and also a pioneer in ...more

More Virginia Woolf 

The Best Virginia Woolf Quotes #37 of 1,176 The Best Writers of All Time #768 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time

20
Chris Evert is listed (or ranked) 20 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

More Chris Evert 

#102 of 2,166 The Best Athletes Of All Time #17 of 229 The Best Female Athletes of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

21
Temple Grandin is listed (or ranked) 21 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

More Temple Grandin 

#858 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #682 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #102 of 247 The Best Female Authors of All Time

22
Your Own Mom is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
RobLein added Your Own Mom

Brag about her. She's great!

23
Rachel Corrie is listed (or ranked) 23 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

More Rachel Corrie 

#134 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #52 of 452 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person

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

Age: Dec. at 39 (68 BC-29 BC)

Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt

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

More Cleopatra 

14 Fascinating Facts About Cleopatra, the Last Queen of Egypt #202 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #70 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time

25
Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
Mollevangsvagen added

Age: Dec. at 82 (1819-1901)

Birthplace: Kensington Palace, London, United Kingdom

Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the ...more

More Queen Victoria 

The True Story Behind The Movie 'Victoria & Abdul' Queen Victoria Is Officially The Baddest Woman In History After Surviving 7 Assassination Attempts #75 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time