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The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models

Updated July 9, 2020 114.6k votes 10.0k voters 111.2k 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 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    3,466
    722

    Janica Kostelić

    Alpine skier

    Age38

    BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia

    Janica Kostelić (Croatian pronunciation: [janitsa kǒstelitɕ]; born 5 January 1982) is a former... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    Your Own Mom is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    1,405
    317

    Your Own Mom

    Brag about her. She's great!

  • 3
    Boudica is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    193
    72

    Boudica

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

    More 

    #146 of 350 The Most Important Leaders In World History#178 of 403 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person

  • 4
    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridg is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, (born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton; 9 January 1982), is a... more on Wikipedia

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  • 5
    Susan B. Anthony is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    265
    265

    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
  • 6
    Harriet Tubman is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    601
    774

    Harriet Tubman

    Activist, Writer

    BirthplaceMaryland

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

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  • 7
    Martina Navratilova is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    339
    467

    Martina Navratilova

    Tennis player

    Age63

    BirthplacePrague, Czech Republic

    Martina Navratilova (Czech: Martina Navrátilová pronounced [mar'cɪna navˈraːcɪlovaː]; born... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    Sally McLellan is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    236
    289

    Sally McLellan

    Athlete, Track and field athlete

    Age34

    BirthplacePaddington, Sydney, Australia

    Sally Pearson, OAM (née McLellan; born 19 September 1986) is a retired Australian athlete. She... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Elizabeth I of England is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    197
    191

    AgeDec. at 70 (1533-1603)

    BirthplacePalace of Placentia, London, United Kingdom

    Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland from 17... more on Wikipedia

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  • 10
    Sarah Mayer is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    Sarah Mayer (1896–1957),was an English female judoka. Mayer first trained in judo by Gunji... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Astrid Benöhr is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    191
    235

    Astrid Benöhr

    Triathlete

    Age62

    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.

  • 12
    Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    230
    254

    Agatha Christie

    Poet, Novelist

    AgeDec. at 86 (1890-1976)

    BirthplaceTorquay, United Kingdom

    Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12... more on Wikipedia

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  • 13
    Michelle Obama is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    1,006
    1,399

    Michelle Obama

    First Lady of the United States, Lawyer

    Age56

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, United States of America

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

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  • 14
    Holly Holm is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    272
    344

    Holly Holm

    Professional Boxer

    Age38

    BirthplaceAlbuquerque, New Mexico

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

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    #405 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time#465 of 670 Rank the Sexiest Current Female Athletes

  • 15
    Ronda Rousey is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    399
    538

    Ronda Rousey

    Mixed Martial Artist, Actor

    Age33

    BirthplaceCalifornia, United States of America

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

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  • 16
    Serena Williams is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    669
    942

    Serena Williams

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

    Age39

    BirthplaceSaginaw, Michigan, United States of America

    Serena Jameka Williams (born September 26, 1981) is an American professional tennis player and... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    Steffi Graf is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    473
    664

    Steffi Graf

    Tennis player

    Age51

    BirthplaceMannheim, Germany

    Stefanie Maria "Steffi" Graf (German pronunciation: [ˈʃtɛfiː ˈɡʁaːf]; born 14 June 1969) is a... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Catherine II of Russia is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    117
    134

    AgeDec. at 67 (1729-1796)

    BirthplaceSzczecin, Poland

    Catherine II (Russian: Екатери́на Алексе́евна, romanized: Yekaterina Alekseyevna; 2 May [O.S.... more on Wikipedia

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  • 19
    Ellen Ochoa is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    337
    460

    Ellen Ochoa

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

    Age62

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, California

    Ellen O. Ochoa (born May 10, 1958) is an American engineer, former astronaut and former... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Susan Wojcicki is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    152
    179

    Susan Wojcicki

    CEO of Youtube, Former Senior Vice President of Ads & Commerce at Google

    Age52

    BirthplaceCalifornia

    Susan Diane Wojcicki is an American businesswoman and CEO of YouTube.

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    #103 of 266 The Most Powerful Women Of All Time#43 of 54 The Most Influential CEOs of All Time

  • 21
    Tory Burch is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    128
    152

    Tory Burch

    Chairman, CEO

    Age54

    BirthplaceValley Forge, Pennsylvania

    Tory Burch is an American fashion designer, business woman, and philanthropist, who has won... more on Wikipedia

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    #9 of 122 The Best Designers for Ballet Flats#24 of 28 The Most Expensive Luxury Watch Brands

  • 22
    Mae Jemison is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    258
    329

    Mae Jemison

    Professor, Astronaut

    Age63

    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.

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    #1 of 21 The Greatest Modern Day Renaissance Women#13 of 45 The Hottest Lady Astronauts In NASA History

  • 23
    Elizabeth Blackwell is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    123
    146

    AgeDec. at 89 (1821-1910)

    BirthplaceBristol, United Kingdom

    Elizabeth Blackwell (February 3, 1821 – May 31, 1910) was a British physician, notable as the... more on Wikipedia

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    #5 of 19 The Greatest Renaissance Women in American History#8 of 24 Famous American Women Who Deserve Their Faces On Money

  • 24
    Edith Cavell is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    173
    233

    AgeDec. at 50 (1865-1915)

    BirthplaceSwardeston, United Kingdom

    Edith Louisa Cavell (; 4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915) was a British nurse. She is... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Cosima Wagner is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models
    Cosima Wagner (born Francesca Gaetana Cosima Liszt; 24 December 1837 – 1 April 1930) was the... more on Wikipedia
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