Can-Do Women: Female Role Models for Young Girls

Actresses, musicians and celebs grab headlines. But role models? Not always. From historic and modern, here are 10 positive female role models for young girls.

It’s a tough pill but often true: The women publicized most frequently don’t always make the best female role models for young girls. And when you want to raise young girls with grit – that is, mentally and emotionally resilient – it helps to have some strong, self-confident, successful examples in your corner.

So why not introduce the little lady in your life to these modern-day and old-school inspirational women who are real-life superheroes?

From the sciences to politics to authors and news personalities, the women featured in this roundup are a great place to start. And, whether your girl is young or you’re looking to get connected to your teen daughter, their stories can be great conversation starters, too.

Be sure to click on each woman’s name for a full biography of each of these female role models for young girls.

Sally Ride

Dr. Sally Ride was the first American woman in space aboard the Challenger in 1983. We honor the astronaut and astrophysicist on her on her birthday, May 26, known as Sally Ride Day.


Ameilia Earhart

In 1928, Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart was also the 16th woman to get a pilot’s license. The aviator was the first president of the Ninety-Nines, a female pilot organization that advanced women in aviation.


Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi is an activist and political opposition leader from Burma. She led a nonviolent movement for democracy in her home country and spent 15 years in custody for doing so. Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.


Marie Curie

Marie Curie was responsible for discovering the element radium – and also experimented with radioactivity. Thanks to her research, we have X-rays. Curie is a two-time Nobel Peace Prize winner – one in physics and one in chemistry.


Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice is the first African-American woman to ever serve as the national security adviser to the United States — and as U.S. Secretary of State. Rice also is the first woman and first African-American provost at Stanford University.


Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony was a civil rights activist who fought for women’s voting rights (which become part of the U.S. Constitution in 1920). Anthony co-founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and also spoke out against slavery.


Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist in the African American Civil Rights Movement. Parks famously refused to give up her bus seat to a white person in the racially segregated Alabama in 1955. She lived and died here in Detroit (you can visit the bus she made her stand on at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn).


Katie Couric

Journalist Katie Couric started her career as a desk assistant at ABC. She worked her way up the ladder and, after working as a reporter at NBC, became a contributing anchor for Dateline and then an anchorwoman at Today. She was also is first-ever anchorwoman on CBS Evening News.


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the former president of Liberia. She’s the world’s first black female president, and she was also awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a U.S. Supreme Court justice, making her the second woman to ever serve as a Supreme Court justice. Ginsburg also was the first tenured female professor at Columbia University. She was director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970s.

This post was originally published in 2012 and is updated regularly.


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