Still the first lady! Michelle Obama is voted the most inspirational female of all time in new poll – with Emma Watson coming in second

Michelle Obama has been voted the most inspirational female of all time.

The former US First Lady, 59, who is also an author and attorney, scooped the top spot on a recent poll with 34 per cent.

Harry Potter actress and women’s rights activist Emma Watson, 33, ranked second, while the late double Nobel Prize winning physicist and chemist, Marie Curie, was in third place.

US tennis ace Serena Williams scored the fourth position, while the late British nurse and social reformer Florence Nightingale took fifth place with 25 per cent, beating Taylor Swift, who had 24 per cent.

The LEGO Group surveyed 2,000 parents of girls aged between six and 10 to find out the famous women whose actions have been most inspirational.

Michelle Obama (pictured in November 2022) has been voted the most inspirational female of all time


  1. Michelle Obama – 34%
  2. Emma Watson – 29% 
  3. Marie Curie – 29%
  4. Serena Williams – 27%
  5. Florence Nightingale – 25%
  6. Taylor Swift – 24%
  7. Rosa Parks – 23%
  8. Beyonce – 21%
  9. Mother Theresa – 21%
  10. Dame Judi Dench – 20%
  11. Oprah Winfrey – 18%
  12. Jane Austin – 17%
  13. Emilia Earhart – 15%
  14. Paula Radcliffe – 15%
  15. Emmeline Pankhurst – 13%
  16. Coco Chanel – 13%
  17. Maya Angelou – 10%
  18. Jodie Comer – 10% 
  19. Malala Yousafzai – 10%
  20. Linda McCartney – 10%
  21. Beth Mead – 10%
  22. Frida Kahlo – 9%
  23. Harriet Tubman – 7%
  24. Florence Pugh – 7%
  25. Boudicca – 6%
  26. Ruth Bader Ginsburg – 5%
  27. Lauren Hemp – 5%
  28. Anna Wintour – 4%
  29. Sylvia Plath – 4%
  30. Gloria Steinem – 3%

Sport stars including England striker Beth Mead (10 per cent) and fellow Lioness Lauren Hemp (5 per cent) also made the top thirty.

Elsewhere, Rosa Parks was placed seventh, while Malala Yousafzai and Emmeline Pankhurst also made the list. 

When it comes to what makes an inspirational woman, 54 per cent of those surveyed cited resilience as a key quality.

Determination (65 per cent), passion (62 per cent) and compassion (54 per cent) also emerged as important traits.

As many as 63 per cent of the parents surveyed, said they believed their daughter needed resilience to be successful in the modern world.

The research was commissioned by the LEGO Group, who are aiming to help young girls to achieve their full potential. 

The toy brand’s ‘Unstoppable FC’ programme offers a variety of opportunities for young girls up and down the country to build resilience and confidence skills. 

Those involved also get a chance to meet inspirational female footballers like Beth Mead, Sam Kerr and Rachel Daly, who will be attending the workshops.

The findings revealed almost a quarter (23 per cent) of parents worry their daughter is being held back from achieving her full potential by a fear of failure.

Yet despite this, 89 per cent said their daughter is more ambitious than they were at the same age.

Meanwhile, a resounding 96 per cent feel their daughter has the potential to break down barriers that they were unable to overcome.

Psychologist Dr Josephine Perry said: ‘Educating girls to treat failure as a learning experience and bounce back from setbacks is crucial to helping them tackle life challenges.’

Harry Potter actress and women's rights activist Emma Watson, 33, ranked second

US tennis ace Serena Williams scored the fourth position

Harry Potter actress and women’s rights activist Emma Watson (pictured left), 33, ranked second, while US tennis ace Serena Williams (pictured right) scored the fourth position

Isabel Graham, Head of Marketing at the LEGO Group, said: ‘We’re excited to be offering a number of different workshops to help young girls build their resilience through our ‘Unstoppable FC’ programme. 

‘At the LEGO Group we’re committed to breaking down barriers to play, and our research shows learning to recover from setbacks is key to helping children achieve their potential.’