6 Inspirational Female Leaders in History

A leader can be anyone, no matter who they are. In the end, it is less about who the person is, and more about which actions they take. However, it is still important to remember the person, as well as what it was that made them who they are.

In celebrating the leaders, we remind ourselves that excellence can come from anywhere. This is an important lesson to think about, as the past has more than likely silenced many natural leaders who could have changed the world for the better, all in the name of arbitrary, useless reasons.

This list contains six inspirational female leaders who have made important impacts on the world.

1. Dolly Parton

“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, then you are an excellent leader.”

When many people think of Dolly Parton, they think of country music and classic songs. While that is what she is generally known for, she should also be commended for her philanthropy work as well. She is one of the most inspirational female leaders in humanitarian work.

Since her spotlight days in the 1980’s, Parton has been involved in many charities, typically ones centered on literacy in children. For instance, the program known as “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library” mails one book per month to each enrolled child from the time of their birth until they enter kindergarten. This program extends to the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, and even the Republic of Ireland.

It may not seem like much, but inspiring future generations to read, dream, and learn is most certainly the mark of a strong leader.


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2. Maya Angelou

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

The fire of adversity creates a spirit as strong as steel. There are millions of people across the world who know this on a deeply personal level, but few can place that feeling of getting stronger despite the world into words quite as beautifully as Maya Angelou did.

Her masterfully crafted words spoke volumes about her character and touched readers worldwide, but she was also a strong leader during historic times, as well. Namely the Civil Rights Movement of the United States. During her time as a younger woman, she brushed shoulders with many great people including Martin Luther King Jr. and several significant African-American writers during her time in the Harlem Writers Guild. During her time associating with these people, she became a true great, herself.

Activism aside, her words and stories still inspire and serve as a fire of strength to people today. Her writings will most likely hold that power for a long time to come, as she is celebrated as one of the most inspirational female leaders in history.


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3. Marie Curie

“We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”

Some leaders reach out to the community, others inspire with words and thought, and some simply charge ahead into the unknown, advancing the world as they go. This was the method that Marie Curie used to change the world while scoring a laundry list of historical firsts.

While pioneering research into radioactivity, Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She then raised her bar even higher by being the first person to ever win two Nobel Prizes, as well as the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences. Beyond those huge achievements, she was the first female professor at the University of Paris, as well as the first woman to be entombed in the Pantheon in Paris based solely on her own merits.

These are all impressive, but the thing that truly makes them stand-out is that she marched ahead into the history books for no reason other than she felt that it was her duty to do so. She exemplified the spirit of a person who makes every second of their life on Earth count, and she will be remembered as one of the inspirational female leaders in science.


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4. J.K. Rowling

“Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.”

J.K. Rowling is not the product of dramatic tragedy or extraordinary circumstances. She was merely a single mother with a story in her mind and a pen in her hand, and that makes her even more special. If such a normal person can create such an expansive world of wonder and fantasy, then the normal person can do anything.

As she has built a small empire on the back of her Harry Potter franchise, she has gone to great lengths to be charitable and philanthropic in her success. However, the world that she has built has also taught multiple generations to dream and hold onto wonder well into adulthood. Her story of success makes J.K. Rowling one of the most inspirational female leaders in the world.


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5. Amelia Earhart

“Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others.”

One sign of a strong leader is a person that pushes people to be better. To see their limits through and to attempt to go beyond those, smashing through the barrier that holds them back. Amelia Earhart is a good example of this, albeit a cautionary tale, as well.

Earhart made her name as a master aviator and aviation pioneer. She received the United States Distinguished Flying Cross for being the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, showing the world that women can fly just as well as men.

Following her successes, she wrote best-selling books about her experiences, providing people of all ages and backgrounds with a bit of inspiration to push them further. She wanted to see how far she could push herself, however.

Earhart unfortunately met her limit in 1937, when she attempted to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe. The aviator’s disappearance has still not been accurately solved to this day, but she no doubt would have wanted someone else to keep striving to go farther than she did.


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6. Meg Wheatley

“Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes.”

Growing up in 1944 New York and being the granddaughter of the first Jewish woman in the Army Corps in World War I, Meg Wheatley was raised around very interesting and varied people. She undoubtedly observed many unique aspects of the human psyche during those years in New York.

As she aged, she eventually joined the Peace Corps in Cholla Namdo Province, Korea, wherein she saw a totally different side of humanity. This more than likely had a bearing on her research into leadership and organizational behaviour. Wheatley examined the very essence of leadership closely and narrowed it down to something of a science while also studying topics such as chaos theory and theories of change.

Much like Marie Curie, she was a pioneer who fought ahead into the unknown in order to make better sense of the world that we live in. She is not only one of the most inspirational female leaders for women, but a true leader for humanity everywhere.


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