11.0k voters

The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models

Updated July 9, 2020 118.2k votes 11.0k voters 115.0k 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.

  • Janica Kostelić1

    Janica Kostelić

    Alpine skier


    BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia

    Janica Kostelić (Croatian pronunciation: [janitsa kǒstelitɕ]; born 5 January 1982) is a former...  more

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  • Martina Navratilova2

    Martina Navratilova

    Tennis player


    BirthplacePrague, Czech Republic

    Martina Navratilova (Czech: Martina Navrátilová pronounced [mar'cɪna navˈraːcɪlovaː]; born...  more

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    #741 of 904 Celebrity Death Pool 2021#474 of 568 American Public Figures Who Are National Treasures

  • Your Own Mom3

    Your Own Mom

    Brag about her. She's great!

  • Boudica4


    Boudica or Boudicca (; also Boadicea or Boudicea , and known in Welsh as Buddug Welsh...  more


    #801 of 1,355 The Greatest Minds of All Time#143 of 347 The Most Important Leaders In World History

  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge5
    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, (born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton; 9 January 1982), is a...  more

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  • Chris Evert6

    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,...  more

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    #61 of 150 Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative#155 of 182 Celebrities You Feel Like You Know

  • Michelle Obama7

    Michelle Obama

    First Lady of the United States, Lawyer


    BirthplaceChicago metropolitan area, Illinois, Chicago, United States of America, United States

    Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (née Robinson; born January 17, 1964) is an American lawyer,...  more

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    #12 of 36 The Worst Wax Figures at Madame Tussauds#36 of 88 The Best Female Celebrity Role Models

  • Astrid Benöhr8

    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.

  • Temple Grandin9

    Temple Grandin

    Animal Expert and Advocate, Bestselling Author


    BirthplaceBoston, Massachusetts, United States of America

    Mary Temple Grandin (born August 29, 1947) is an American professor of animal science at...  more


    #14 of 46 The Greatest Disabled Characters in Film#12 of 21 Famous People Who Are Asexual

  • Hanna Reitsch10

    AgeDec. at 67 (1912-1979)

    BirthplaceJelenia Góra, Poland

    Hanna Reitsch (29 March 1912 – 24 August 1979) was a German aviatrix and test pilot. During...  more
  • J. K. Rowling11

    J. K. Rowling

    Author of the "Harry Potter" series, UK's Best-Selling Living Author


    BirthplaceYate, United Kingdom

    Joanne Rowling ( "rolling"; born 31 July 1965), better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling,...  more

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  • Sarah Mayer12
    Sarah Mayer (1896–1957),was an English female judoka. Mayer first trained in judo by Gunji...  more
  • Harriet Tubman13

    Harriet Tubman

    Activist, Writer


    Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross, c. March 1822 – March 10, 1913) was an American...  more

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  • Ellen Ochoa14

    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...  more

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    #41 of 45 The Hottest Lady Astronauts In NASA History#5 of 21 The Greatest Modern Day Renaissance Women

  • Ronda Rousey15

    Ronda Rousey

    Mixed Martial Artist, Actor


    BirthplaceCalifornia, USA

    Ronda Jean Rousey (; born February 1, 1987) is an American professional wrestler, actress,...  more

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  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh16

    AgeDec. at 95 (1906-2001)

    BirthplaceEnglewood, New Jersey, United States of America

    Anne Spencer Lindbergh (née Morrow; June 22, 1906 – February 7, 2001) was an American author...  more
  • Gabrielle Giffords17

    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...  more
  • Mae Jemison18

    Mae Jemison

    Professor, Astronaut


    BirthplaceDecatur, Alabama, United States of America

    First African American woman in space on space shuttle Endeavor. Then founded her own company, the Jemison Group, seeking to encourage a love of science in students and bring advanced technology around the world.
  • Holly Holm19

    Holly Holm

    Professional Boxer


    BirthplaceAlbuquerque, New Mexico

    Holly Rene Holm (born October 17, 1981) is an American mixed martial artist who competes in...  more

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  • Sally McLellan20

    Sally McLellan

    Athlete, Track and field athlete


    BirthplacePaddington, Sydney, Australia

    Sally Pearson, OAM (née McLellan; born 19 September 1986) is a retired Australian athlete. She...  more
  • Grace VanderWaal21
    Grace Avery VanderWaal (born January 15, 2004) is an American singer-songwriter from Suffern,...  more

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    #106 of 739 The Best Singers of All Time#53 of 213 The Best Current Female Singers

  • Eleanor Roosevelt22

    Eleanor Roosevelt

    Politician, Diplomat

    AgeDec. at 78 (1884-1962)

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, USA

    Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (; October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) was an American political...  more

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  • Coco Chanel23

    Coco Chanel

    Fashion designer, Designer

    AgeDec. at 88 (1883-1971)

    BirthplaceSaumur, France

    Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel (19 August 1883 – 10 January 1971) was a French fashion...  more

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  • Grace Hopper24

    Grace Hopper

    Programmer, Mathematician

    AgeDec. at 86 (1906-1992)

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York

    Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (née Murray December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American...  more

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  • Jane Austen25

    Jane Austen

    Novelist, Writer

    AgeDec. at 42 (1775-1817)

    BirthplaceSteventon, United Kingdom

    Jane Austen (; 16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for...  more

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