10.7k voters

The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models

Updated July 9, 2020 118.8k votes 10.7k voters 113.6k 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 on Wikipedia
  • Martina Navratilova2

    Martina Navratilova

    Tennis player


    BirthplacePrague, Czech Republic

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


    #147 of 347 The Most Important Leaders In World History#631 of 1,355 The Greatest Minds of All Time

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

    More Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge 

    #60 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World#2 of 31 Every Person Who Married Into The Royal Family In The Last Century, Ranked

  • J. K. Rowling6

    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 on Wikipedia

    More J. K. Rowling 

    J.K. Rowling's Post-Books Reveals About Harry PotterInteresting Facts You May Not Know About JK Rowling

  • Harriet Tubman7

    Harriet Tubman

    Activist, Writer


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

    More Harriet Tubman 

    17 Things You Didn't Know About Harriet Tubman#103 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive

  • Michelle Obama8

    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 on Wikipedia
  • Steffi Graf9

    Steffi Graf

    Tennis player


    BirthplaceMannheim, Germany

    Stefanie Maria "Steffi" Graf (German pronunciation: [ˈʃtɛfiː ˈɡʁaːf]; born 14 June 1969) is a... more on Wikipedia

    More Steffi Graf 

    #57 of 143 Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon#4 of 72 The Greatest Women's Tennis Players of All Time

  • Serena Williams10

    Serena Williams

    Current No. 1 in Women's Singles Tennis, Oldest No. 1 in WTA History


    BirthplaceSaginaw, Michigan, United States of America

    Serena Jameka Williams (born September 26, 1981) is an American professional tennis player and... more on Wikipedia

    More Serena Williams 

    #197 of 199 Famous Women You'd Want to Have a Beer With#159 of 595 American Public Figures Who Are National Treasures

  • Temple Grandin11

    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 on Wikipedia
  • Astrid Benöhr12

    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.

  • Ronda Rousey13

    Ronda Rousey

    Mixed Martial Artist, Actor


    BirthplaceCalifornia, United States of America

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

    More Ronda Rousey 

    22 Hardcore Facts About Ronda Rousey#91 of 172 The Best Hot Ones Guests Ever

  • Sally Ride14

    Sally Ride

    Physicist, Astronaut

    AgeDec. at 61 (1951-2012)

    BirthplaceLos 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.... more on Wikipedia

    More Sally Ride 

    #30 of 45 The Hottest Lady Astronauts In NASA History#10 of 24 Famous American Women Who Deserve Their Faces On Money

  • Holly Holm15

    Holly Holm

    Professional Boxer


    BirthplaceAlbuquerque, New Mexico

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

    More Holly Holm 

    #410 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time#8 of 25 The Best Southpaw Fighters In The UFC

  • Sally McLellan16

    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 on Wikipedia
  • Rachel Corrie17

    Rachel Corrie

    Peace activist

    AgeDec. at 24 (1979-2003)

    BirthplaceOlympia, Washington

    Rachel Aliene Corrie (April 10, 1979 – March 16, 2003) was an American activist and diarist.... more on Wikipedia
  • Sarah Mayer18
    Sarah Mayer (1896–1957),was an English female judoka. Mayer first trained in judo by Gunji... more on Wikipedia
  • Ellen Ochoa19

    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 on Wikipedia
  • Elizabeth Warren20

    Elizabeth Warren

    First Female Senator from Massachusetts, Former Special Advisor for the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


    BirthplaceOklahoma City, United States of America, United States, with Territories, Oklahoma

    Elizabeth Ann Warren (née Herring; born June 22, 1949) is an American politician and former... more on Wikipedia

    More Elizabeth Warren 

    All The Celebrities Supporting Elizabeth Warren#284 of 904 Celebrity Death Pool 2021

  • Mother Teresa21

    Mother Teresa

    Nun, Teacher

    AgeDec. at 87 (1910-1997)

    BirthplaceSkopje, Yugoslavia

    Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu (born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, Albanian: [aˈɲɛzə ˈɡɔndʒɛ bɔjaˈdʒiu]; 26... more on Wikipedia

    More Mother Teresa 

    Disturbing Facts and Stories That Will Change How You See Mother TeresaThe Best Mother Teresa Books

  • Susan B. Anthony22

    Susan B. Anthony

    Women's rights activist

    AgeDec. at 86 (1820-1906)

    BirthplaceAdams, Massachusetts

    Susan B. Anthony (February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906) was an American social reformer and... more on Wikipedia
  • Condoleezza Rice23

    Condoleezza Rice

    First Female African-American Secretary of State, Second Female Secretary of State


    BirthplaceBirmingham, Alabama, USA

    Condoleezza Rice (; born November 14, 1954) is an American political scientist and diplomat.... more on Wikipedia

    More Condoleezza Rice 

    #1 of 13 Famous African American Women Who Are Republican#37 of 105 The Most Influential Contemporary Americans

  • Queen Victoria24
    Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom... more on Wikipedia

    More Queen Victoria 

    The Morbidly Creepy And Straight Up Weird Contents Of Queen Victoria's Coffin12 Unusual Facts You Never Knew About Queen Victoria

  • Cleopatra25
    Cleopatra VII Philopator (Koinē Greek: Κλεοπᾰ́τρᾱ Φιλοπάτωρ, romanized: Kleopátrā Philopátōr;... more on Wikipedia

    More Cleopatra 

    14 Fascinating Facts About Cleopatra, the Last Queen of Egypt12 Small But Poignant Facts We Just Learned About Cleopatra