10 Kickass Women Who Inspire Me
It is almost Women’s History Month, and to celebrate, I’ve compiled a list of ten women who inspire me. From driving change and innovation to inspiring creativity and exploration, these amazing women are not afraid to push the boundaries of possibility every day.
Michelle Obama is the first African-American first lady, and is a role model for success, hard work, and personal integrity. Between successfully juggling family, career, and public commitments, she still manages to stay true to herself and exude confidence and elegance. In addition, Obama is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, and makes a point to give back to the public good.
Komako Kimura was a dancer, actress, writer, and magazine editor from Japan. Her entire life is a testament to her work standing up for women’s rights, encompassing both her personal and public decisions. At age 14, she escaped an arranged marriage to become a dancer and actress. When she faced criticism for her artistry, she opened her theater performances to the public for free, making accessible what the authorities had prohibited. She also supported the American suffragist movement, as well as learned the American feminist movement strategies to bring back home to Japan.
Best known for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potters movies, Emma Watson is a powerful example of an educated, intelligent feminist using her status to bring positive change. She has been involved with UN Women’s HeforShe program since 2014, which works to bring global gender equality, and hopes to promote education for girls and inspire more women to take political leadership roles in the future. Furthermore, Malala Yousafzai has said that she was inspired to call herself a feminist after hearing Watson’s speech at the UN launch of HeforShe.
Lea Salonga is a Filipina singer and actress who has gained critical acclaim for her roles in musical theater, as well as voices of two Disney Princesses (Mulan and Jasmine). She landed her first major role at age 18, originating the lead role of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon on both the West End and Broadway, and followed this success with being the first Asian actress to play the roles of Eponine and Fantine in the musical Les Miserables on Broadway. An inspiration for Asian thespians, an often underrepresented minority in the performing arts, she was the first Asian women to win a Tony Award as well as the first Filipino artist to sign with an international record label.
Marie Curie is a Polish mathematician and scientist, and is not only the first and only woman to have been honoured with two Nobel Prizes, but is also the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences. Her work in radioactivity and chemistry led to the development of the x-ray, which remains an important medical device today. Curie also founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and in Warsaw, which remain majors centers of medical research today. In addition, she was known for her honesty and modesty, and did not patent the radium-isolation process so that the entire scientific community could access it.
Sarah Robb O’Hagan
Sarah Robb O’Hagan is the Founder of ExtremeYou, a book and content platform, a prior CEO of Flywheel Sports, as well as an expert on business innovation having reinvented major companies like Gatorade and Equinox Fitness Clubs. Self-described as “a high-energy combination of disruptive business leader, fitness fanatic, and cheerleading mom,” Sarah is an exemplar model of a contemporary woman who can “have it all.” Most outstanding though, is that prior to achieving huge successes like president of Equinox and CEO of Flywheel, she was fired twice from jobs in her mid-20s. However, each time, O’Hagan took responsibility for getting fired, acknowledged her mistakes, and moved forward with new lessons and conviction. As she puts it, “failure is the greatest personal trainer that you will ever have.”
Oprah Winfrey is a media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer, and philanthropist. She rose up out of extreme poverty to become one of the wealthiest people in the world, as well as one of the most powerful women in in entertainment. Her entirely self-made path to success demonstrates what it means to be a trailblazer. Winfrey also shares many of her struggles and journeys to improvement with the public, allowing people the opportunity to be themselves on the way to becoming the best version of themselves.
Mary Barra is the first female CEO of General Motors, a major global automaker. Since becoming CEO, she has changed the course of the company, transitioning it into the tech space by embracing things like driverless car technology and electric vehicles. Her courage to bring innovation into an industry built around legacy and long-standing history is inspiring.
Jennifer Tejada is the CEO of PagerDuty, one of the fastest-growing enterprise software startups in Silicon Valley. The company helps other companies monitor their tech and find new opportunities, and provides support for an ever-expanding list of companies, including more than half of the Fortune 50. Prior to PagerDuty, Tejada was also the CEO of Keynote Systems, Executive Vice President at Mincom, and a senior officer at P&G. Working in a field dominated by men, Tejada shows the value of leveraging uniqueness, taking initiative, and leading.
BestDressed / Ashley
Ashley, also known as bestdressed on YouTube and Instagram, is a film student at UCLA whose online presence is rapidly growing and who is currently nominated for a Shorty Award. Through her channel, she shares her love of film and fashion, as well as speaks out on societal norms regarding gender and sex life. As a college student myself with many similar interests and an equally unhealthy work-life balance, Ashley is both relatable and an example of goals I am working to achieve.