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Lists of Influential Women


Lists on this page:
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The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time: A Ranking Past and Present
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100 Women Who Shaped World History
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100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century
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The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World

The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time: A Ranking Past and Present

The list below is from the book The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time: A Ranking Past and Present Carol Publishing Group (1995), written by Deborah G. Felder.

1 Eleanor Roosevelt Episcopalian
2 Marie Curie Catholic (lapsed)
3 Margaret Sanger Atheist
4 Margaret Mead Episcopalian
5 Jane Addams  
6 Mary Wollstonecraft Unitarian
7 Susan B. Anthony Quaker; Unitarian
8 Elizabeth Cady Stanton atheist
9 Harriet Tubman Methodist
10 The Virgin Mary Jewish; Christian icon
11 Georgia O'Keeffe Episcopalian (nominal)
12 Frances Perkins Episcopalian
13 Jane Austen Anglican
14 Mary Harris "Mother" Jones  
15 Simone de Beauvoir Catholic
16 Queen Elizabeth I Anglican
17 Rosa Parks Methodist
18 Helen Keller Swedenborgian
19 Anne Sullivan  
20 Sojourner Truth Methodist; Seventh-day Adventist
21 Queen Isabella Catholic
22 Florence Nightingale Anglican
23 Karen Horney  
24 Angelina Grimke  
25 Sarah Moore Grimke  
26 Elizabeth Blackwell Quaker
27 George Eliot Anglican; agnostic
28 Ida Bell Wells-Barnett  
29 Betty Friedan Jewish
30 Rachel Carson Environmentalist
31 Ella Baker  
32 Hannah Arendt Jewish
33 Mother Teresa Catholic
34 Melanie Klein  
35 Emily Dickinson  
36 Golda Meir Jewish
37 Virginia Woolf Neo-Pagan
38 Queen Victoria Anglican
39 Martha Graham  
40 Zora Neale Hurston  
41 Harriet Beecher Stowe Congregationalist
42 Rosa Luxemburg Jewish
43 Mary McLeod Bethune Methodist
44 Charlotte Bronte Anglican
45 Emily Bronte Anglican
46 Catherine the Great Russian Orthodox
47 Carrie Chapman Catt  
48 Jane Goodall  
49 Emma Goldman Jewish
50 Hillary Rodham Clinton Methodist
51 Coco Chanel  
52 Grace Murray Hopper Jewish
53 Barbara McClintock  
54 Gertrude Stein Jewish
55 Joan of Arc Catholic
56 Indira Gandhi Hindu
57 Louise Nevelson Jewish
58 Emrneline Pankhurst  
59 Dorothea Lange  
60 Agnes De Mille  
61 Sappho  
62 Nadia Boulanger  
63 Gwendolyn Brooks  
64 Maria Montessori  
65 Marian Anderson Baptist
66 Anne Frank Jewish
67 Babe Didrikson Zaharias  
68 Margaret Thatcher  
69 Mary Cassatt  
70 Sarah Bernhardt Jewish
71 Aung San Suu Kyi Buddhist
72 Amelia Earhart  
73 Murasaki Shikibu Buddhist/Shinto culture
74 Toni Morrison  
75 Gloria Steinem half-Jewish; Feminist, Humanist
76 Christine de Pisan  
77 Margaret Bourke-White Ethical Culture
78 Frida Kahlo Jewish Catholic
79 Gabriela Mistral Jewish Catholic
80 Flannery O'Connor Catholic
81 Katharine Graham Jewish
82 Bessie Smith  
83 Joan Ganz Cooney  
84 Cleopatra  
85 Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis Catholic
86 Sandra Day O'Connor Episcopalian
87 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Jewish
88 Jessie Redmon Fauset  
89 Wu Chao  
90 Billie Holiday  
91 Marilyn Monroe Christian Science;
temporary convert to Judaism
92 Frances Willard Methodist
93 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross  
94 Mary Pickford Catholic; Christian Science (convert)
95 Leni Riefenstahl Lutheran
96 Katharine Hepburn nominal Episcopalian background; atheist
97 Billie Jean King  
98 Princess Diana Anglican
99 Lucille Ball Protestant; Dutch Reformed (Rev. Peale)
100 Oprah Winfrey Protestant

100 Women Who Shaped World History

The list below is from the book 100 Women Who Shaped World History (Bluewood Books: San Francisco, CA, 1994), written by Gail Meyer Rolka.

The names in this list are listed in chronological order. This book does not purport to list the "most influential" women in history. The back cover states:

History is filled with thousands of people who have made significant accomplishments. However, among these are figures who have risen as true beacons of greatness--whose personal talent, striving and unique sense of vision have earned them a place in the annals of history. 100 Women Who Shaped World History provides capsule views of 100 such women whose indomitable spirit and desire to excel changed the course of world history. This book is a perfect desk reference for trivia fans and for anyone interested in learning more about the achievements and contributions of women.
Queen Makare Hatshepsut d. 1483 BC
Deborah c. 1150 BC Jewish
Sappho (Psappho) c. 600 BC
Aspasia c. mid-5th century BC
Cleopatra VII 69-30 BC
Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ c. 22-20 BC Jewish; Christian icon
Boadicea (Boudicca) d. 60 AD
St. Helena c. 250-c. 330 AD Catholic
Zenobia (Septimia Bat Zabbai) c. 3rd century AD
Hypatia 370-415 AD pagan
Theodora 497-548 AD
Eleanor of Aquitaine 1122-1204 Catholic
Queen Tamara (Thamar) c. 1156-1212
Queen Margaret 1353-1412
Joan of Arc 1412-1431 Catholic
Isabella I 1451-1504 Catholic
Catherine of Aragon 1485-1536 Catholic
Catherine de Medicie 1519-1589 Catholic
Elizabeth I 1533-1603 Anglican
Queen Jinga (Jinga Mbandi) c. 1580-1663
Pocahontas (Matoaka) c. 1595-1617 Protestant
Mary Wortley Montagu 1689-1762
Emilie du Chatelet 1706-1749
Catherine the Great 1729-1796 Russian Orthodox
Caroline Herschel 1750-1848
Catherine Littlefield Greene 1755-1814
Maie Lavoisier 1758-1797
Mary Wollstonecraft 1759-1797 Unitarian
Sophie German 1776-1831
Elizabeth Fry 1780-1845
Mary Fairfax Somerville 1780-1872
Sacajawea ("Bird Woman") 1784?-1812 or 1884
La Saragossa (Maria Agustin) 1786-1857
Lucretia Coffin Mott 1793-1880 Quaker
Catherine Beecher 1800-1878
Dorothea Dix 1802-1887
Harriet Beecher Stowe 1811-1896 Congregationalist
Ada Lovelace 1815-1852
Charlotte Bronte 1816-1855 Anglican
Emily Bronte 1818-1848 Anglican
Elizabeth Cady Stanton 1815-1902
Lucy Stone 1818-1893
Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) 1819-1880 Anglican; agnostic
Queen Victoria 1819-1901 Anglican
Susan B. Anthony 1820-1906 Quaker; Unitarian
Florence Nightingale 1820-1910 Anglican
Harriet Tubman c. 1820-1913 Methodist
Clara Barton 1821-1912
Elizabeth Blackwell 1821-1910 Quaker
Mary Baker Eddy 1821-1910 Christian Science
Lakshmi Bai, Rani of Jhansi c. 1830-1858
Mary Harris Jones (Mother Jones) 1830-1930
Louisa May Alcott 1832-1888
Sophia Jex-Blake 1840-1912
Annie Besant 1847-1933 Theosophy
Emma Lazarus 1849-1887 Jewish
Emmeline Pankhurst 1858-1928
Christabel Pankhurst 1880-1958
Carrie Chapman Catt 1859-1947
Jane Addams 1860-1935
Mary Kingsley 1862-1900
Marie Curie 1867-1934 Catholic (lapsed)
Sarah Breedlove Walker 1867-1919
Gertrude Bell 1868-1926
Alice Hamilton 1869-1970
Rosa Luxemburg 1870-1919 Jewish
Maria Montessori 1870-1952
Julia Morgan 1872-1957
Mary McLeod Bethune 1875-1955 Methodist
Helen Keller 1880-1968 Swedenborgian
Frances Perkins 1880-1965 Episcopalian
Emmy Noether 1882-1935
Margaret Higgins Sanger 1883-1966 Sanger
Eleanor Roosevelt 1884-1962 Episcopalian
Karen Horney 1885-1952
Sister Elizabeth Kenny 1886-1952
Louise Boyd 1887-1972
Lucila Godey Alcaya (Gabriela Mistral) 1889-1957 Jewish Catholic
Agatha Christie 1891-1976
Martha Graham 1984-1991
Anne Freud 1897-1937 Freudian Psychoanalysis; Atheist
Golda Meir 1898-1978 Jewish
Margaret Mead 1901-1978 Episcopalian
Marian Anderson 1902-1993 Baptist
Margaret Bourke-White 1904-1971 Ethical Culture
Rachel Carson 1907-1964 Environmentalist
Mother Teresa 1910-1997 Catholic
Rosa Parks 1913- Methodist
Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias 1914-1956
Indira Gandhi 1917-1984 Hindu
Betty Friedan 1921- Jewish
Shirley Chisholm 1924- Baptist
Margaret Thatcher 1925-
Anne Frank 1929-1945 Jewish
Toni Morrison 1931-
Corazon Aquino 1933-
Valentina Tereshkova 1937-
Marian Wright Edelman 1939- Baptist
Rigoberta Menchu 1959-

100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century

The list below is from the book 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century (Ladies' Home Journal Books: Des Moines, Iowa; 1998), edited by Lorraine Glennon.

The individuals in the book are categorized into groups (Activists and Politicians; Writers and Journalists; Doctors and Scientists; Entrepreneurs; Artists and Entertainers; Athletes; Pioneers and Adventurers), and presented alphabetically within each group. The book does not attempt to rank these individuals, aside from identifying them collectively as the top 100 most influential women of the 20th Century.

Text from inside book jacket:

Women found their voice in the 20th Century. No longer silent and passive, no longer confined to kitchens and bedrooms, women today are educators and athletes, politicians and activists, doctors and adventurers. Women entrepreneurs boldly lead in business. Women scientists make breakthrough discoveries. Women journalists and writers suggest new ways of examining issues and events.

As we head into the new millennium, one thing is certain: Women will never be the same. Neither will the world. Selected by a team of several top women historians from across the nation and the editors of Ladies' Home Journal, the women in this book helped bring about this major transformation.

Narrowing the choice down to just 100 names was a daunting task. But some names practically suggested themselves. What would the world be like without Eleanor Roosevelt's compassionate local action? Or Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which drew attention to the perils that unchecked pesticides held for our environment? Where would we be without the liberating message of freedom and equality from impassioned women like Betty Friedan, Margaret Sanger, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Gloria Steinem?

Not everyone will agree with every choice made for this book. But let's face. One hundred volumes wouldn't do justice to the accomplishments of women in this past century. The women in this book will influence our lives for untold years to come.

Activists and Politicians
Jane Addams
Madeleine Albright Anglican
Mary McLeod Bethune Methodist
Hillary Rodham Clinton Methodist
Marian Wright Edelman Baptist
Indira Gandhi Hindu
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Jewish
Emma Goldman Jewish
Anita Hill
Dolores Huerta
Maggie Kuhn
Golda Meir Jewish
Rigoberta Menchu
Sandra Day O'Connor Episcopalian
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Catholic
Rosa Parks Methodist
Alice Paul
Frances Perkins Episcopalian
Eva Peron
Jiang Qing
Eleanor Roosevelt Episcopalian
Phyllis Schlafly
Gloria Steinem half-Jewish; Feminist, Humanist
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Buddhist
Mother Teresa Catholic
Margaret Thatcher
Writers and Journalists
Maya Angelou
Hanna Arendt
Rachel Carson Environmentalist
Agatha Christie
Simone de Beauvoir Catholic
Anne Frank Jewish
Betty Friedan Jewish
Ann Landers
Margaret Mitchell
Toni Morrison
Dorothy Parker half-Jewish
Sylvia Plath
Gertrude Stein Jewish
Barbara Walters
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Virginia Woolf Neo-Pagan
Doctors and Scientists
Virginia Apgar
Helen Caldicott
Marie Curie Catholic (lapsed)
Rosalind Franklin
Jane Goodall
Grace Hopper
Melanie Klein
Mary Leakey
Barbara McClintock
Lise Meitner Jewish-born Protestant
Entrepreneurs
Coco Chanel
Julia Child
Elsie de Wolfe
Katharine Graham Jewish
Ruth Handler
Estee Lauder Jewish
Jean Nidetch
Mary Quant
Martha Stewart Catholic
Oprah Winfrey Protestant
Artists and Entertainers
Marian Anderson Baptist
Lucille Ball Protestant; Dutch Reformed (Rev. Peale)
Margaret Bourke-White Ethical Culture
Maria Callas
Isadora Duncan
Ella Fitzgerald
Jane Fonda born-again Christian
Greta Garbo Lutheran
Martha Graham
Katharine Hepburn nominal Episcopalian background; atheist
Billie Holiday
Janis Joplin Churches of Christ
Frida Kahlo Jewish Catholic
Dorothea Lange
Madonna Catholic; Kabbalah
Marilyn Monroe Christian Science;
temporary convert to Judaism
Georgia O'Keeffe Episcopalian (nominal)
Mary Pickford Catholic; Christian Science (convert)
Leni Riefenstahl Lutheran
Athletes
Nadia Comaneci
Babe Didrikson
Gertrude Ederle
Sonja Henie
Billie Jean King
Suzanne Lenglen
Wilma Rudolph
Pioneers and Adventurers
Nancy Brinker
Helen Gurley Brown
Diana, Princess of Wales
Amelia Earhart
Betty Ford Episcopalian
Helen Keller Swedenborgian
Maria Montessori
Jane Roe
Margaret Sanger Atheist
Valentina Tereshkova

The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World

Soure of list (except for religious affiliation column): The Australian Magazine, a supplement of the Weekend Australian, May 4-5, 1996.


Rank Name - Country, age Religious Affiliation
1 Benazir Bhutto - Pakistan, 42 Islam
2 Hillary Clinton - US, 48 Methodist
3 Queen Elizabeth II - UK, 70 Anglican
4 Margaret Thatcher - UK, 70  
5 Alice Mitchell Rivlin - US, 65  
6 Tansu Ciller - Turkey, 49  
7 Gro Harlem Brundtland - Norway, 57  
8 Wu Yi - China, 57  
9 Germaine Greer - Australia, 57  
10 Oprah Winfrey - US, 42 Protestant
11 Sadako Ogata - Japan, 68  
12 Christine Todd Whitman - US, 49 Presbyterian
13 Anson Chang - Hong Kong, 55  
14 Katharine Graham - US, 78 Catholic
15 Laura d'Andrea Tyson - US, 49  
16 Rachel Lomax - UK, 50  
17 Madeleine Korbel Albright - US, 58 Episcopalian
18 Tutut Suharto - Indonesia, 47  
19 Aung San Suu Kyi - Burma, 50 Buddhist
20 Mary Robinson - Ireland, 51  
21 Vidgis Finnbogadottir - Iceland, 66  
22 Janet Reno - US, 58  
23 Nafis Sadik - Pakistan, 61  
24 Hanan Ashrawi - Palestine, 49  
25 Queen Beatrix - The Netherlands, 58  
26 Charlotte Beers - US, 59  
27 Sheila Widnall - US, 58  
28 Sheila Maureen Copps - Canada, 43  
29 Nguyen Thi Binh - Vietnam, 69  
30 Dianne Feinstein - US, 63 Jewish
31 Violeta Chamorro - Nicaragua, 65  
32 Chandrika Kumaratunga - Sri Lanka, 50  
33 Begum Khaleda Zia - Bangladesh, 50  
34 Rita Sussmuth - Germany, 59  
35 Mirjana Markovic - former Yugoslavia, 53  
36 Christine Ockrent - France, 51  
37 Sherry Lansing - US, 51  
38 Gloria Steinem - US, 61 half-Jewish; Feminist, Humanist
39 Jodie Foster - US, 33
40 Estee Lauder - US, 87 Jewish
41 Rosabeth Moss Kanter - US, 53  
42 Pauline Green - UK, 47  
43 Barbara Walters - US, 64  
44 Sandra Day O'Connor - US, 66 Episcopalian
45 Anita Roddick - UK, 53  
46 Ruth Bader Ginsburg - US, 63 Jewish
47 Nadine Gordimer - South Africa, 73
48 Tina Brown - US, 42  
49 Princess Diana - UK, 34 Anglican
50 Susanna Agnelli - Italy, 73  
51 Carol Bellamy - US, 54  
52 Liliana Ferraro - Italy, 52  
53 Carol Galley - UK, 47  
54 Madonna - US, 38 Catholic; Kabbalah
55 Countess Marion Donhoff - Germany, 86  
56 Jana Wendt - Australia, 39  
57 Sylvia Toth - The Netherlands, 52  
58 Imelda Marcos - Philippines, 67  
59 Queen Sirikit - Thailand, 63 Buddhist
60 Irene Pivetti - Italy, 33  
61 Cheryl Kernot - Australia, 47  
62 Catherine Bertini - US, 46  
63 Ritt Bjerregaard - Denmark, 54  
64 Elizabeth Dole - US, 59 Presbyterian
65 Elizabeth Dowdeswell - Canada, 50  
66 Takako Doi - Japan, 67  
67 Anita DeFrantz - US, 43  
68 Donna Karan - US, 47  
69 Miriam Defensor Santiago - Philippines, 51  
70 Helen Gurley Brown - US, 74  
71 Elisabeth Guigou - France, 49  
72 Janet Holmes a Court - Australia, 52  
73 Bodil Nyboe Andersen - Denmark, 55  
74 Heide Simonis - Germany, 52  
75 Jutta Limbach - Germany, 61  
76 Hanna Suchocka - Poland, 50  
77 Wandira Kazibwe - Uganda, 42  
78 Simone Veil - France, 68  
79 Jennie George - Australia, 48  
80 Rosalyn Higgins - UK, 58  
81 Dame Leonie Kramer - Australia, 71  
82 Irene Saez - Venezuela, 34  
83 Megawati Sukarno - Indonesia, 49  
84 Erika Emmerich - Germany, 52  
85 Dai Qing - China, 55  
86 Sirkka Hamalainen - Finland, 57  
87 Roseanne - US, 42 Judaism; Latter-day Saint; Kabbalah
88 Winnie Mandela - South Africa, 61  
89 Xuxa - Brazil, 32 Catholic
90 Irina Khakamada - Russia, 40  
91 Helen Clark - New Zealand, 46  
92 Esther Koplowitz - Spain, 44  
93 Alicia Koplowitz - Spain, 42  
94 Tatyana Mitkova - Russia, 40  
95 Ilda Boccassini - Italy, 46  
96 Francoise Baree-Sinoussi - France, 48  
97 Emily Lau - China, 43  
98 Mother Teresa - India, 85 Catholic
99 Betty Boothroyd - UK, 66  
100 Christy Turlington - US, 27  


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Research assisted by Dienae Hunter in June 2005.
Webpage created 10 June 2005. Last modified 3 December 2005.

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