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12 Best Female Role Models Everyone Should Look Up To

12 Best Female Role Models Everyone Should Look Up To

In the modern world, female role models are both in plentiful supply and yet hard to pin down as ‘role models.’ Women with influence and power have the ability to transform a generation, as do their male counterparts, but are often placed at either end of the spectrum. These powerful, influential women are either put on pedestals as impossibly perfect paragons or are seen as bad influences, the corrupting moral forces in society. Bajan singer Rihanna has even gone on record to distance herself from the pressures of being a female role model.

However, female role models the world over are so varied and unique that decrying one woman for not being a role model in fact ensures she becomes one by virtue of being different, of going against the norms and challenging perceptions of femininity and feminism in equal measure. So, if you’re interested in looking for some female role models who inspire, challenge, and influence the way our world works, here are 12 of the best women that you could look to as female role models.

1. Sylvia Plath

Author, writer.

lifehackwomen-sylviaplath

    Sylvia might seem to be an unlikely candidate in the realm of female role models, but she was brave and bold enough to put her innermost thoughts and feelings out there for the world to hear and understand. ‘The Bell Jar’ was a stunning, semi-autobiographical novel about mental illness, a taboo subject in those days, and Plath’s timeless poetry resonates long after her passing.

    2. Beyonce Knowles-Carter

    Singer, actress.

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    lifehackwomen-beyonce

      One of the modern day examples of a woman who can do it all and run the world, Beyonce really is one of the best role models a young woman could have. She’s driven, talented, intelligent, focused, and someone who keeps on pushing herself harder. She’s also managing to juggle the pressures of being a mother and wife and has had a decade-long string of successful solo hits and albums. Beyonce is clearly running things on her own terms.

      3. Audrey Hepburn

      Actress, singer, humanitarian.

      lifehackwomen-audreyhepburn

        One of Hollywood’s most beloved and iconic actresses, Audrey Hepburn is revered for both her acting skills and her philanthropic efforts as a UNICEF ambassador following her unofficial retirement from acting, making her one of the most notable female role models. With a life devoted to kindness and compassion, Audrey devoted herself to being a mother, a wife, and a humanitarian, something admirable and inspirational.

        4. Aung San Suu Kyi

        Activist, politican.

        lifehackwomen-aungsansuukyi

          The world’s most famous living political activist, Aung San Suu Kyi gained international fame and recognition when she campaigned for democracy in Burma, earning herself a spot amongst the great female role models. Suu Kyi lead the National League for Democracy for many years and gained huge global respect and praise for her continued stance, despite being a  political prisoner under house arrest for over 20 years before her release. Suu Kyi is planning to run for President in her native Burma in 2015, and if she does, it will be a massive victory for one of life’s superb female role models.

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          5. Katharine Hepburn

          Actress.

          lifehackwomen-katharinehepburn

            A tremendously independent, innovative and astounding actress, Katharine Hepburn has remained one of the greatest actresses of all time, with her imposing, charming on-screen persona and her formidable life off screen equally iconic. She was fiercely individual, bisexual, assertive and confident. She was amongst the first to wear trousers on screen, and managed to mastermind her own comeback following a period of box office flops and losses, creating her most iconic roles and coming back on top. As Bogart might quip…what a dame!

            6. Malala Yousifazi

            Activist.

            lifehackwomen-malalayousufzai

              A young woman who survived an attempt on her life and who is now an outspoken advocate of female rights and female education in the Middle East, Malala Yousifazi is the textbook-perfect example of a role model for young women and with good reason. Since moving to the UK to live and work, she has bravely spoken in the United Nations and continues to fight for girls to get an education in all corners of the globe, making her a perfect example of a female role model.

              7. Margaret Cavendish

              Scientist, author.

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              lifehackwomen-margaretcavendish

                The name Margaret Cavendish might not strike the same spark of recognition as Mary Shelley or H.G Wells, but she is undoubtedly worth of being one of history’s top female role models. This is largely due to her status as a duchess who published work under her own name, as both an author and as a scientist with a strong focus and regard for natural sciences. Cavendish is regarded as the mother of science fiction, one of the first to write a full-length story in the genre, as well as creating perhaps the first true Utopian sci-fi novel in ‘The Blazing World’. She also stood her ground against prominent philosophers of the time and published journals of innovative scientific research. Cavendish might have been a duchess, but she was also a brilliant mind and one worthy of recognition and respect.

                8. Maya Angelou

                Poet, author.

                lifehackwomen-mayaangelou

                  One of the world’s greatest poets and a beloved friend of the Obamas and Oprah alike, Maya Angelou is one of the most important examples of fantastic female role models. Quietly powerful, strong, and forceful, Angelou changed a generation and subsequent generations with her poetry and writing, speaking from a lifetime full of highs and lows, and with a quiet, warm spirituality that has made her a go-to heroine and poet for all.

                  9. Elizabeth Garret Anderson

                  Physician, feminist.

                  lifehackwomen-elizabethgarretanderson

                    The rather wonderfully titled Elizabeth Garret Anderson was the first female surgeon and physician in the United Kingdom. Anderson didn’t just stop there, however. She became the first female medical doctor in France, the first woman to be a dean of a British medical school, the first British female mayor, and a co-founder of a hospital staffed by women. If Elizabeth Garret Anderson isn’t your definition of a female role model, then I don’t know what is!

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                    10. Michelle Obama

                    Lawyer, advocate, First Lady of the United States.

                    lifehackwomen-michelleobama

                      Michelle Obama is one of the most powerful women in the world and thankfully uses it to wonderful effect, helping to change a nation for the better and focusing on programs and projects around the world, such as anti-obesity initiatives and pushes for women to received education around the globe. A fashion icon, a devoted mother, and an accomplished lawyer and writer, Michelle has the world in the palm of her hand. Plus she’s married to some powerful guy.

                      11. Emma Thompson

                      Actress, screenwriter, human rights advocate.

                      lifehackwomen-emmathompson

                        English actress Emma Thompson has in recent years become one of the most beloved and talented actresses of any generation, transforming from her roots as a comedic junior into an Oscar-winning thespian and proving her strength, versatility and likeability as an actress and as a screenwriter (both of which have won her Oscars). She’s also unashamedly goofy and naturally funny – whether it’s photobombing Lupita Nyong’o or throwing her painful shoes aside in a drunken role of announcing an award winner to raucous applause, Emma has more than earned her stripes as an actress, and also as a role model.

                        12. Oprah Winfrey

                        Philanthropist, humanitarian, businesswoman, actress.

                        lifehackwomen-oprah

                          Last but certainly not least, philanthropist, actress and all-round global presence Oprah Winfrey has endured and survived a tumultuous life, rising to become the most influential and powerful woman on television today, with her own hugely successful network and a worldwide following that stretches into millions. She also uses her network as a platform for improving the wellbeing of her viewers and strives to have a positive, meaningful effect in the world. Nobody does it better.

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                          Chris Haigh

                          Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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                          Last Updated on March 14, 2019

                          7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                          7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                          Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

                          For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

                          Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

                          1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

                          A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

                          It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

                          It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

                          How it helps you:

                          If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

                          Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

                          2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

                          Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

                          Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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                          How it helps you:

                          Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

                          Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

                          If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

                          Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

                          3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

                          Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

                          Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

                          How it helps you:

                          This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

                          For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

                          Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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                          A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

                          4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

                          To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

                          A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

                          How it helps you:

                          One word: hierarchy.

                          All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

                          In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

                          If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

                          5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

                          Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

                          Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

                          How it helps you:

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                          Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

                          If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

                          This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

                          6. What do you like about working here?

                          This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

                          Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

                          How it helps you:

                          You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

                          Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

                          Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

                          7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

                          What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

                          As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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                          How it helps you:

                          What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

                          First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

                          Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

                          Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

                          Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

                          Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

                          Making Your Interview Work for You

                          Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

                          Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

                          More Resources About Job Interviews

                          Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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