2019 is an interesting time for women, more so than ever. With the rise of the MeToo movement and female leaders in industry, things can seem to be on the up. But women in the developed world still don’t have equal pay with male counterparts, plus forced marriage and rape still exist in the world. So, it’s clear the fight is far from over. Inspiring women who can be positive role models are all around us, but sometimes, their stories don’t get as much airtime as their male counterparts. Here’s more on female role models who you’ve likely never heard of before.
First, though, let’s look at how exactly role models are helpful.
Why are Positive Role Models Important?
Don’t underestimate the importance of having role models. Their strength, humility, and courage in the face of adversity can raise our spirits. Plus, their ingenuity and talent can inspire us to work harder.
And there’s research to back this up. Studies find that exposing women to successful female role models can help them to overcome negative gender-based stereotypes and have more faith in their own performance. Examples of fearless, talented females are all around us. These ladies are in sports, business, and science, and they often go unsung.
How to Choose Female Role Models
So, how do you find a role model to inspire you? In general, you must identify with that person in some way. Here are 3 examples:
- See your values within someone else
- Hear something in their story that mirrors your own
- Note a part of your own personality within theirs
Below are just five inspiring stories out of the thousands out there:
1. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh
When you think of powerful female role models in the media, who comes to mind? You might picture Anna Wintour or Oprah Winfrey. But there’s another female role model who isn’t as well known.
Back in 2009, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh started a courageous online magazine for and by Muslim women. A lot of cultures silence issues facing Muslim women, so founding the magazine was a bold move that has given millions of Muslim women more of a voice than before.
For her efforts, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. Furthermore, her candid and sometimes controversial articles have been published in Teen Vogue and The Huffington Post, among other esteemed publications.
2. Cynthia Telles
As mental health issues and services get more attention from governments, media, and organizations worldwide, thankfully more women are speaking up about this important topic. These positive role models can encourage women and are at the heart of some major reforms.
For example, Dr. Cynthia Telles became a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the UCLA School of Medicine and was on several corporate boards, from governmental commissions to philanthropic organizations. Also, Barack Obama appointed her from 2010-18 to be on the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. Also, she has served as Commissioner for the City of Los Angeles for almost 20 years.
As proof that hard work and intelligence make a difference, she proudly represents Latin women. Females in the Latino community, by the way, are under-represented in government and medicine.
3. Role Models can include Rosalind Franklin
Unfortunately, the field of science in general marginalizes women. And yet the many female scientific discoveries is impressive. Unlocking the secrets of DNA has been one of the most groundbreaking and revolutionary discoveries of the modern world, with a big impact on our understanding of ourselves.
And while Francis Crick and James Watson get credit for unravelling the mysteries of the double helix DNA structure, the discovery likely wouldn’t have happened without oRosalind Franklin. She used her skills in X-ray crystallography to get a clear picture of the DNA structure.
Unfortunately, scientist Maurice Wilkins took her picture wwithout permission and showed it to James Watson. In 1958, Wilkins, Watson, and their partner Crick received the Nobel Prize. Yet there was no credit or mention for Rosalind Franklin’s work.
4. Ertharin Cousin
While many of us have daydreamed about changing the world, Ertharin Cousin is actually doing it. For example, as the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, she leads the world’s biggest humanitarian organisation. And she’s on a mission to end world hunger.
Ertharin Cousin also spent years working with government on strategies for food, health, and disaster relief around the world. She has led the response to devastating emergencies too. Two examples are the crisis in Syria’s refugee camps and the 2011 Haiti earthquake disaster. Now you see why she’s on this list of positive role models.
5. Role Models like Dorcas Muthoni
Lastly, Dorcas Muthoni is a computer scientist, female entrepreneur, and trailblazer for black women in technology and STEM. Dorcas Muthoni is the driving force behind some of the most popular online applications in Africa, which have had a transformative impact across the continent.
Furthermore, as the current leader of AfChix, she encourages women to go into computing and technology careers to fix the gender imbalance in those areas. Last year, the Internet Hall of Fame inducted Dorcas Muthoni for her technological contributions. But her effects on society have had an even wider reach.
Finally, over to you: Have you heard of any of these women before? Who are some other female positive role models to add to the list? What women inspire you?