12.1k voters

The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models

Updated July 9, 2020 113.5k votes 12.1k voters 118.2k views319 items

List RulesInspiring 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.

  • 1

    Janica Kostelić

    Alpine skier


    BirthplaceZagreb, 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
  • 2

    Your Own Mom

    Brag about her. She's great!

  • 3

    Martina Navratilova

    Tennis player


    BirthplacePrague, Czech Republic

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

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    #12 of 1,316 The Best Athletes Of All Time#631 of 904 Celebrity Death Pool 2021

  • 4

    AgeDec. at 82 (1865-1947)

    BirthplaceHeves County, Hungary

    Baroness Emma Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála "Emmuska" Orczy de Orci (; 23 September 1865 – 12 November 1947) was a Hungarian-born British novelist and playwright. She is best known for her...  more
  • 5

    Shannon May

    Founded Bridge International Academies, the world’s largest private provider of nursery and primary education for families living on $2 a day or less.
    Shannon May (born 9 June 1991) is an Australian football (soccer) player who plays for Australian W-League team Perth Glory.In December 2009, she was awarded the team's Most Glorious Player award -...  more
  • 6


    Boudica or Boudicca (; also Boadicea or Boudicea , and known in Welsh as Buddug Welsh pronunciation: [ˈbɨ̞ðɨ̞ɡ]) was a queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the...  more


    #702 of 1,355 The Greatest Minds of All Time#131 of 347 The Most Important Leaders In World History

  • 7

    Chris Evert

    Tennis player, Actor


    BirthplaceFort 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 three...  more

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    #6 of 18 Women Who Burt Reynolds Has Dated#1501 of 2,328 The Most Beautiful Celebrities Of Our Time

  • 8

    Temple Grandin

    Animal Expert and Advocate, Bestselling Author


    BirthplaceBoston, USA, Massachusetts

    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 spokesperson....  more


    #97 of 240 The Best Female Authors of All Time#13 of 46 The Greatest Disabled Characters in Film

  • 9

    Cher Wang

    Co-Founder and Chairperson of HTC Corporation, Co-Founder and Chairperson of VIA Technologies


    BirthplaceTaipei, Taiwan

    Cher Wang (Chinese: 王雪紅; pinyin: Wáng Xuěhóng; born 15 September 1958) is a Taiwanese entrepreneur and philanthropist. As co-founder and chairperson (since 2007) of HTC Corporation and integrated...  more
  • 10

    Harriet Tubman

    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 missions...  more

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    17 Things You Didn't Know About Harriet Tubman#106 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive

  • 11

    Mary Jo White

    Chairwoman of the Security and Exchange Commission, First Woman to be United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York


    BirthplaceKansas City, Missouri

    Mary Jo White (born December 27, 1947) is an American attorney who served as the 31st Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 2013 to 2017. She was the first and only woman to be...  more
  • 12

    Krista Donaldson

    CEO of D-Rev, a not-for-profit based in Silicon Valley that brings medical devices to people living on less than $4 a day.
  • 13

    Jessica Ennis-Hill

    Track and field athlete


    BirthplaceSheffield, United Kingdom

    Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill (born 28 January 1986) is a retired British track and field athlete from England, specialising in multi-eventing disciplines and 100 metres hurdles. As a competitor in...  more
  • 14

    Pat Summitt

    Basketball Coach, Coach


    BirthplaceClarksville, Tennessee

    Patricia Susan Summitt (née Head; June 14, 1952 – June 28, 2016) was an American women's college basketball head coach who accrued 1,098 career wins, the most in college basketball history upon her...  more

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    #30 of 124 The Greatest College Basketball Coaches of All Time#22 of 49 The Most High Strung Coaches in College Sports

  • 15

    Amy Mainzer



    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.
  • 16

    Ellen Ochoa

    World's First Hispanic Female Astronaut, First Hispanic and Second Female Director of NASA's Johnson Space Center


    BirthplaceLos Angeles, California

    Ellen O. Ochoa (born May 10, 1958) is an American engineer, former astronaut and former Director of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa became director of the center upon the retirement of the previous...  more
  • 17

    Tavi Gevinson

    Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Rookie Magazine


    BirthplaceOak Park, Illinois, USA

    Tavi Gevinson (born April 21, 1996) is an American writer, magazine editor, and actress. She came to public attention at the age of 12 due to her fashion blog Style Rookie. By the age of 15, she had...  more
  • 18

    Kirsten Gillibrand

    Politician, Attorney at law


    BirthplaceAlbany, New York, United States of America

    Moderate Senator - New York
    Kirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand (née Rutnik; (listen) KEER-stən JIL-i-brand; born December 9, 1966) is an American lawyer and politician who has served as the junior United States Senator from New York...  more
  • 19

    Padmasree Warrior

    Chief Technology & Strategy Officer of Cisco Systems, Former CTO of Motorola


    BirthplaceVijayawada, India

    Padmasree Warrior is the former Chief Executive Officer of NIO U.S. as well as a member of its board of directors. In these capacities, she was responsible for the brains of NIO's autonomous electric...  more
  • 20

    Astrid Benöhr



    BirthplaceBergisch 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.

  • 21

    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


    BirthplaceTucson, Arizona, United States of America

    Gabrielle Dee Giffords (born June 8, 1970) is an American politician from Arizona and a gun control advocate. As a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, she represented...  more
  • 22

    Melinda Gates

    Co-Founder, Co-Chair


    BirthplaceDallas, Texas, USA

    Melinda Ann Gates DBE (née French; August 15, 1964) is an American philanthropist and a former general manager at Microsoft. In 2000, she co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her...  more
  • 23

    Charlene, Princess of Monaco

    Crown Princess, Swimmer


    BirthplaceZimbabwe, Bulawayo

    Charlene, Princess of Monaco (née Charlene Lynette Wittstock; French: Charlène; born 25 January 1978) is a Zimbabwean-South African former Olympic swimmer and wife of Prince Albert II. The Princess...  more
  • 24

    Marissa Mayer

    President and CEO of Yahoo!, Former Executive for Google


    BirthplaceWausau, Wisconsin

    Marissa Ann Mayer (; born May 30, 1975) is an American information technology executive, and co-founder of Lumi Labs. Mayer formerly served as the president and chief executive officer of Yahoo!, a...  more
  • 25

    Sri Mulyani Indrawati

    Managing Director of the World Bank Group, Former Finance Minister of Indonesia


    BirthplaceBandar Lampung, Indonesia

    Sri Mulyani Indrawati (born 26 August 1962) is an Indonesian economist who has been Minister of Finance of Indonesia since 2016; previously she served in the same post from 2005 to 2010. In June...  more