The Most Influential Women Today

The Most Influential Women Today

The following 50 amazing women in our overall influence list span a wide range of disciplines and positions of influence, including science, business, politics, philanthropy, and more. For leaders and innovators in 21 specific fields of study, see the Table of Contents or check the listing that follows the top 50.

For the time period from 2010 to 2020, we have identified over 500 influential women in 21 fields of study and 50 women among all fields to top our list of most influential women today. To build the list, we used our machine-learning-powered InfluenceRanking™ Engine to produce a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data.

Find out more about our Methodology. Note: for the purposes of our overall list, the influence of entertainers, TV personalities, and models were adjusted downward.

50 Most Influential Women Today

  1. #1

    Emmanuelle Charpentier

    1968 - Present (56 years)

    Areas of Specialization: Microbiology, Genetics
    Emmanuelle Charpentier is the Founding and Acting Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens and an Honorary Professor at Humboldt University of Berlin. She completed her undergraduate studies at the Pierre and Marie Curie University, which is now known as the Faculty of Science at Sorbonne University. She went on to earn a research doctorate from the Institut Pasteur.

    Charpentier is well known for her collaboration with Jennifer Doudna on decoding the molecular mechanisms of the CRISPR/Cas9 bacterial immune system. Her work on CRISPR has enabled scientists to edit the genome using Cas9.

    For her work on CRISPR, she has received the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award, the Gruber Foundation International Prize in Genetics, the Leibniz Prize, the Kavli Prize and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Novozymes Prize, the Bijvoet Medal of the Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research at Utrecht University, and most recently, the Scheele Award of the Swedish Pharmaceutical Society.

  2. #2

    Malala Yousafzai

    1997 - Present (27 years)
    Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani female education activist and the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate at the age of 17. She is the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate, the second Pakistani and the first Pashtun to receive a Nobel Prize. Yousafzai is a human rights advocate for the education of women and children in her native homeland, Swat, where the Pakistani Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has grown into an international movement, and according to former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, she has become Pakistan’s “most prominent citizen.”
  3. #3

    Oprah Winfrey

    1954 - Present (70 years)
    Oprah Gail Winfrey , also known mononymously as Oprah, is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and media proprietor. She is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast from Chicago, which ran in national syndication for 25 years, from 1986 to 2011. Dubbed the “Queen of All Media”, she was the richest African-American of the 20th century and was once the world’s only black billionaire. By 2007, she was often ranked as the most influential woman in the world.
  4. #4

    Christine Lagarde

    1956 - Present (68 years)
    Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde is a French politician and lawyer who has served as President of the European Central Bank since 2019. She previously served as the 11th Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund from 2011 to 2019. Lagarde had also served in the Government of France, most prominently as Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry from 2007 until 2011. She is the first woman to hold each of those posts.
  5. #5

    Jennifer Doudna

    1964 - Present (60 years)

    Areas of Specialization: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology
    Jennifer Doudna is a Li Ka Shing Chancellor Chair Professor for the Department of Chemistry and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, she has been a professor at the University of California, San Francisco and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes. She earned a B.A. in biochemistry from Pomona College and a Ph.D. in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard Medical School.

    She is best known for her work with CRISPR. She, along with her colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier, were the first to suggest that genes could be edited or reprogrammed, now considered one of the most impactful discoveries ever made in the field of biology.

    For her work in gene editing, she has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Gruber Prize in Genetics, the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience and in 2016, she was runner-up for the Time magazine Person of the Year, alongside her fellow CRISPR colleagues.

  6. #6

    Martha Nussbaum

    1947 - Present (77 years)
  7. #7

    Serena Williams

    1981 - Present (43 years)
    Serena Jameka Williams is an American former professional tennis player. Widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, she was ranked world No. 1 in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association for 319 weeks, including a joint-record 186 consecutive weeks, and finished as the year-end No. 1 five times. She won 23 Grand Slam women’s singles titles, the most in the Open Era, and the second-most of all time. She is the only player to accomplish a career Golden Slam in both singles and doubles.
  8. #8

    Catherine, Princess of Wales

    1982 - Present (42 years)
    Catherine, Princess of Wales is a member of the British royal family. She is married to William, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the British throne. Born in Reading, Catherine grew up in Bucklebury, Berkshire. She was educated at St Andrew’s School and Marlborough College before studying art history at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where she met William in 2001. She held several jobs in retail and marketing and pursued charity work before their engagement was announced in November 2010. They married on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey. The couple have three children: George, ...
  9. #9

    Fei-Fei Li

    1975 - Present (49 years)
    Fei-Fei Li is an American computer scientist, who was born in China and is known for establishing ImageNet, the dataset that enabled rapid advances in computer vision in the 2010s. She is the Sequoia Capital Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and former board director at Twitter. Li is a Co-Director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, and a Co-Director of the Stanford Vision and Learning Lab. She served as the director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory from 2013 to 2018.
  10. #10

    Zaha Hadid

    1950 - 2016 (66 years)
    Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid was an Iraqi and British architect, artist and designer, recognized as a major figure in architecture of the late-20th and early-21st centuries. Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Hadid studied mathematics as an undergraduate and then enrolled at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in 1972. In search of an alternative system to traditional architectural drawing, and influenced by Suprematism and the Russian avant-garde, Hadid adopted painting as a design tool and abstraction as an investigative principle to “reinvestigate the aborted and untested experiments of ...
  11. #11

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    1989 - Present (35 years)
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez , also known by her initials AOC, is an American politician and activist. She has served as the U.S. representative for New York’s 14th congressional district since 2019, as a member of the Democratic Party.
  12. #12

    Jane Goodall

    1934 - Present (90 years)
    Dame Jane Morris Goodall , formerly Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall, is an English primatologist and anthropologist. She is considered the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzeess, after 60 years studying the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees. Goodall first went to Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania to observe its chimpanzees in 1960.
  13. #13

    Daphne Koller

    1968 - Present (56 years)
  14. #14

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    1933 - 2020 (87 years)
    Joan Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an American lawyer and jurist who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until her death in 2020. She was nominated by President Bill Clinton to replace retiring justice Byron White, and at the time was viewed as a moderate consensus-builder. Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman and the second woman to serve on the Court, after Sandra Day O’Connor. During her tenure, Ginsburg authored the majority opinions in cases such as United States v. Virginia, Olmstead v. L.C., Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Ser...
  15. #15

    Ivanka Trump

    1981 - Present (43 years)
    Ivana Marie “Ivanka” Trump is an American businesswoman who is the second-born child of Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States and his first wife, Ivana, as well the eldest of two daughters born to her father. She was a senior advisor in his administration , and also was the director of the Office of Economic Initiatives and Entrepreneurship.
  16. #16

    Shafi Goldwasser

    1958 - Present (66 years)
  17. #17

    Elizabeth Holmes

    1984 - Present (40 years)

    According to Wikipedia, Elizabeth Anne Holmes is an American former businesswoman who was the founder and chief executive of Theranos, a now-defunct health technology company. Theranos soared in valuation after the company claimed to have revolutionized blood testing by developing testing methods that could use surprisingly small volumes of blood, such as from a fingerprick. By 2015, Forbes had named Holmes the youngest and wealthiest self-made female billionaire in America on the basis of a $9-billion valuation of her company. The next year, following revelations of potential fraud about Theranos’s claims, Forbes revised its estimate of Holmes’s net worth to zero, and Fortune named her in its feature article on “The World’s 19 Most Disappointing Leaders”. Read more about Holmes in our article Even Superstar Students Need Help: The Cautionary Tale of Elizabeth Holme.

  18. #18

    J. K. Rowling

    1965 - Present (59 years)
    Joanne Rowling , better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British author and philanthropist. She wrote Harry Potter, a seven-volume fantasy series published from 1997 to 2007. The series has sold over 600 million copies, been translated into 84 languages, and spawned a global media franchise including films and video games. The Casual Vacancy was her first novel for adults. She writes Cormoran Strike, an ongoing crime fiction series, under the alias Robert Galbraith.
  19. #19

    Shirin Ebadi

    1947 - Present (77 years)
    Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian Nobel laureate, lawyer, writer, teacher and a former judge and founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran. In 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her pioneering efforts for democracy and women’s, children’s, and refugee rights. She was the first Muslim woman and the first Iranian to receive the award.
  20. #20

    Esther Duflo

    1972 - Present (52 years)
  21. #21

    Julia Kristeva

    1941 - Present (83 years)
    Julia Kristeva is a Bulgarian-French philosopher, literary critic, semiotician, psychoanalyst, feminist, and, most recently, novelist, who has lived in France since the mid-1960s. She has taught at Columbia University, and is now a professor emerita at Université Paris Cité. The author of more than 30 books, including Powers of Horror, Tales of Love, Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia, Proust and the Sense of Time, and the trilogy Female Genius, she has been awarded Commander of the Legion of Honor, Commander of the Order of Merit, the Holberg International Memorial Prize, the Hannah Arend...
  22. #22

    Betsy DeVos

    1958 - Present (66 years)
    Elisabeth Dee DeVos is an American politician, philanthropist, and former government official who served as the 11th United States secretary of education from 2017 to 2021. DeVos is known for her conservative political activism, and particularly her support for school choice, school voucher programs, and charter schools. She was Republican national committeewomanwoman for Michigan from 1992 to 1997 and served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000, and again from 2003 to 2005. She has advocated for the Detroit charter school system and she is a former member of the board ...
  23. #23

    Marissa Mayer

    1975 - Present (49 years)
    Marissa Ann Mayer is an American business executive and investor who served as president and chief executive officer of Yahoo! from 2012 to 2017. She was a long-time executive, usability leader and key spokesperson for Google . Mayer later co-founded Sunshine, a startup technology company.
  24. #24

    Margaret Atwood

    1939 - Present (85 years)
    Margaret Eleanor Atwood is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, teacher, environmental activist, and inventor. Since 1961, she has published eighteen books of poetry, eighteen novels, eleven books of non-fiction, nine collections of short fiction, eight children’s books, two graphic novels, and a number of small press editions of both poetry and fiction. Atwood has won numerous awards and honors for her writing, including two Booker Prizes, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Governor General’s Award, the Franz Kafka Prize, Princess of Asturias Awards, and the National Book Crit...
  25. #25

    Gloria Steinem

    1934 - Present (90 years)
    Gloria Marie Steinem is an American journalist and social-political activist who emerged as a nationally recognized leader of second-wave feminism in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
  26. #26

    Donna Haraway

    1944 - Present (80 years)
    Donna J. Haraway is an American professor emerita in the history of consciousness and feminist studies departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a prominent scholar in the field of science and technology studies. She has also contributed to the intersection of information technology and feminist theory, and is a leading scholar in contemporary ecofeminism. Her work criticizes anthropocentrism, emphasizes the self-organizing powers of nonhuman processes, and explores dissonant relations between those processes and cultural practices, rethinking sources of ethics.
  27. #27

    Ginni Rometty

    1957 - Present (67 years)
    Virginia Marie “Ginni” Rometty is an American business executive who was executive chairman of IBM after stepping down as CEO on April 1, 2020. She was previously chairman, president and CEO of IBM, becoming the first woman to head the company. She retired from IBM on December 31, 2020, after a near-40 year career there. Before becoming president and CEO in January 2012, she first joined IBM as a systems engineer in 1981 and subsequently headed global sales, marketing, and strategy. While general manager of IBM’s global services division, in 2002 she helped negotiate IBM’s purchase of Pricewa...
  28. #28

    Sheryl Sandberg

    1969 - Present (55 years)
    Sheryl Kara Sandberg is an American technology executive, philanthropist, and writer. Sandberg served as chief operating officer of Meta Platforms, a position from which she stepped down in August 2022. She is also the founder of LeanIn.Org. In 2008, she was made COO at Facebook, becoming the company’s second-highest ranking official. In June 2012, she was elected to Facebook’s board of directors, becoming the first woman to serve on its board. As head of the company’s advertising business, Sandberg was credited for making the company profitable. Prior to joining Facebook as its COO, Sandber...
  29. #29

    Michiko Kakutani

    1955 - Present (69 years)
    Michiko Kakutani is an American writer and retired literary critic, best known for reviewing books for The New York Times from 1983 to 2017. In that role, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1998.
  30. #30

    Elizabeth Blackburn

    1948 - Present (76 years)

    Elizabeth Blackburn is a researcher at the University of California at San Francisco, studying the impacts of stress on telomerase and telomeres. She is the former president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the first Australian woman to win a Nobel prize. She earned a bachelor of science and a master of science from the University of Melbourne. She went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. She is best known for her co-discovery of the telomerase, which is the enzyme that replenishes telomere. She and colleagues Carol W. Greider and Jack Szostak were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for this work. Her research on telomerase has explored ways that mental health can impact physical health, investigating the impacts of meditation and social bonds.

    She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Eli Lilly Research Award for Microbiology and Immunology, California Scientist of the Year for 1999, an American Cancer Society Medal of Honor, Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences, and the Royal Medal of the Royal Society.

  31. #31

    Angela Davis

    1944 - Present (80 years)
    Angela Yvonne Davis is an American revolutionary Marxist and feminist political activist, philosopher, academic, and author; she is a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Davis was a longtime member of the Communist Party USA and a founding member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism . She was active in movements such as the Occupy movement and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
  32. #32

    Rahaf Mohammed

    2000 - Present (24 years)
    Rahaf Mohammed is a Saudi refugee and author who was detained by Thai authorities on 5 January 2019 while transiting through Bangkok airport, en route from Kuwait to Australia. She had intended to claim asylum in Australia and escape her family who she says abused her and threatened to kill her for, among other reasons, leaving Islam, an act that is a capital offence under Saudi law. After she appealed for help on Twitter and gained significant attention, Thai authorities abandoned their plans to forcibly return her to Kuwait , and she was taken under the protection of the United Nations High...
  33. #33

    Naomi Klein

    1970 - Present (54 years)
    Naomi Klein is a Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker known for her political analyses, support of ecofeminism, organized labour, leftism and criticism of corporate globalization, fascism, ecofascism and capitalism. As of 2021 she is Associate Professor, and Professor of Climate Justice at the University of British Columbia, co-directing a Centre for Climate Justice.
  34. #34

    Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

    1938 - Present (86 years)
    Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a Liberian politician who served as the 24th president of Liberia from 2006 to 2018. Sirleaf was the first elected female head of state in Africa. Sirleaf was born in Monrovia to a Gola father and Kru-German mother. She was educated at the College of West Africa. She completed her education in the United States, where she studied at Madison Business College, the University of Colorado Boulder, and Harvard University. She returned to Liberia to work in William Tolbert’s government as Deputy Minister of Finance from 1971 to 1974. Later, she worked again in the West, for...
  35. #35

    Dina Katabi

    1970 - Present (54 years)
    Dina Katabi is the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and the director of the MIT Wireless Center. Academic biography Katabi received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Damascus in 1995 and M.S and Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT in 1998 and 2003 respectively. In 2003, Katabi joined MIT, where she holds the title of Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She is the co-director of the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing and a principal investigator at MIT’s Computer Science a...
  36. #36

    Nasrin Sotoudeh

    1963 - Present (61 years)
    Nasrin Sotoudeh is a human rights lawyer in Iran. She has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections and prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors. Her clients have included journalist Isa Saharkhiz, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, and Heshmat Tabarzadi. She has also represented women arrested for appearing in public without a hijab, which is a punishable offense in Iran. Nasrin Sotoudeh was the subject of Nasrin, a 2020 documentary filmed in secret in Iran about Sot...
  37. #37

    Angela Merkel

    1954 - Present (70 years)
    Angela Dorothea Merkel is a German former politician and scientist who served as chancellor of Germany from 2005 to 2021. A member of the Christian Democratic Union , she previously served as Leader of the Opposition from 2002 to 2005 and as Leader of the Christian Democratic Union from 2000 to 2018. Merkel was the first female chancellor of Germany. During her chancellorship, Merkel was frequently referred to as the de facto leader of the European Union and the most powerful woman in the world. Beginning in 2016, she was often described as the leader of the free world.
  38. #38

    Ann Coulter

    1961 - Present (63 years)
    Ann Hart Coulter is an American conservative media pundit, author, syndicated columnist, and lawyer. She became known as a media pundit in the late 1990s, appearing in print and on cable news as an outspoken critic of the Clinton administration. Her first book concerned the impeachment of Bill Clinton and sprang from her experience writing legal briefs for Paula Jones’s attorneys, as well as columns she wrote about the cases. Coulter’s syndicated column for Universal Press Syndicate appears in newspapers and is featured on conservative websites. Coulter has also written 13 books.
  39. #39

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    1969 - Present (55 years)
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-American activist and former politician. She is a critic of Islam and advocate for the rights and self-determination of Muslim women, opposing forced marriage, honour killing, child marriage, and female genital mutilation.
  40. #40

    Vivienne Westwood

    1941 - 2022 (81 years)
    Dame Vivienne Isabel Westwood was an English fashion designer and businesswoman, largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream. In 2022, Sky Arts ranked her the 4th most influential artist in Britain of the last 50 years.
  41. #41

    Sonia Sotomayor

    1954 - Present (70 years)
    Sonia Maria Sotomayor is an American lawyer and jurist who serves as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was nominated by President Barack Obama on May 26, 2009, and has served since August 8, 2009. She is the third woman, first woman of color, the first Hispanic, and first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court.
  42. #42

    Chelsea Clinton

    1980 - Present (44 years)
    Chelsea Victoria Clinton is an American writer and global health advocate. She is the only child of Bill Clinton, a former U.S. President, and Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate. She was a special correspondent for NBC News from 2011 to 2014 and now works with the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative, including taking a prominent role at the foundation with a seat on its board.
  43. #43

    Mary Barra

    1961 - Present (63 years)
    Mary Teresa Barra is an American businesswoman who has been the chair and chief executive officer of General Motors since January 15, 2014. She is the first female CEO of a ‘Big Three’ automaker. In December 2013, GM named her to succeed Daniel Akerson as CEO. Prior to being named CEO, Barra was executive vice president of global product development, purchasing, and supply chain.
  44. #44

    Kristalina Georgieva

    1953 - Present (71 years)
    Kristalina Ivanova Georgieva-Kinova is a Bulgarian economist serving as the 12th managing director of the International Monetary Fund since 2019. She was the Chief Executive of the World Bank Group from 2017 to 2019 and served as Acting President of the World Bank Group from 1 February to 8 April 2019 following the resignation of Jim Yong Kim. She previously served as Vice-President of the European Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker from 2014 to 2016.
  45. #45

    Germaine Greer

    1939 - Present (85 years)
    Germaine Greer is an Australian writer and public intellectual, regarded as one of the major voices of the second-wave feminism movement in the latter half of the 20th century. Specializing in English and women’s literature, she has held academic positions in England at the University of Warwick and Newnham College, Cambridge, and in the United States at the University of Tulsa. Based in the United Kingdom since 1964, she has divided her time since the 1990s between Queensland, Australia, and her home in Essex, England.
  46. #46

    Nancy Fraser

    1947 - Present (77 years)
  47. #47

    Barbara Liskov

    1939 - Present (85 years)
    Barbara Liskov is an American computer scientist who has made pioneering contributions to programming languages and distributed computing. Her notable work includes the introduction of abstract data types and the accompanying principle of data abstraction, along with the Liskov substitution principle, which applies these ideas to object-oriented programming, subtyping, and inheritance. Her work was recognized with the 2008 Turing Award, the highest distinction in computer science.
  48. #48

    Janet Yellen

    1946 - Present (78 years)
    Janet Louise Yellen is an American economist serving as the 78th United States secretary of the treasury since January 26, 2021. She previously served as the 15th chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018. She is the first person to hold those positions having also led the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the first woman to hold either post.
  49. #49

    Vandana Shiva

    1952 - Present (72 years)
    Vandana Shiva is an Indian scholar, environmental activist, food sovereignty advocate, ecofeminist and anti-globalization author. Based in Delhi, Shiva has written more than 20 books. She is often referred to as “Gandhi of grain” for her activism associated with the anti-GMO movement.
  50. #50

    Ada Yonath

    1939 - Present (85 years)
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Influential Women in Sociology

Our list of influential sociologists promotes those women who are leaders in feminism and women’s studies, social policymaking, researching the human community, addressing inequality, childrearing, and more. See how these women are helping us to discover more about ourselve, and learn who they are as well.

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Want more? Use our Influential People and Influential Schools tools to research the fields of study that interest you, in the time frame of your choice.

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Top row, left to right: Patricia Hill Collins, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Malala Yousafzai, Shafi Goldwasser, Jennifer Doudna, Fabiola Gianotti, Michiko Kakutani, Lauren Underwood.

Bottom row, left to right: Fei-Fei Li, Esther Duflo, Kathy Reichs, Nancy Fraser, Brené Brown, Judith Curry, Jill Lepore, Zaha Hadid.

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