These Are the 23 Women Who Inspire Us the Most

By Sarah Hilmer
March 29, 2016
6 minute read

The BetterWomen of BetterWorks refuse to let Women’s History Month come to an end without giving an appropriate salute to the women who inspire us the most. We have admired and named these women for their grit, for their passion and because in some way or another, they have inspired us to become better versions of ourselves. [tweet text=”These are the women #BetterWomen admire most #womenshistorymonth”]These are the women[/tweet] who rally us to advocate for a better workplace—and a better world.

“Audrey Lorde, because her words empower me to be resilient and unafraid, and Maya Angelou, because her words remind me to love and be present with those around me.” – Michelle Kim, Customer Success

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who’s been an eloquent, fierce, inexhaustible advocate for women’s rights and gender equality since before I was born. And my mom! She put herself through college, moved from Washington to California by herself to pursue a career, and ended up being the controller, CFO, and eventually President of several companies during dot com 1.0. She’s always been my role model as a woman who aggressively pursues and achieves her life goals.” – Sarah Day, Technical Content Strategist 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“Oprah Winfrey’s path to achieving success is difficult to wrap my mind around. Despite a tough childhood and long list of obstacles, she’s shown an insane amount of drive to become the “Queen of All Media”. She is North America’s first and only multi-billionaire black person and continues to reinvent herself again and again. She can’t be stopped!” – Marissa Sitka, Customer Success

“Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and bestselling author, came to prominence after her Ted talk called:  The Power of Vulnerability in which she argued that to live a full life requires courage – and showing courage means doing things that make you feel vulnerable. It quickly became one of the most successful Ted talks of all time: more than 25 million people have seen it online and shared her message that we should stop worrying about being perfect, accept ourselves as we are, and engage meaningfully with one another.” – Ana Varela, Product Design Leader

“Michelle Obama has stayed true to herself and redefined what it means to be the first lady with an approachable, fun, sassy style that has inspired millions of girls to empower themselves with education.” – Ciara Peter, Head of Product
Michelle Obama

“It’s hard to pick just one for me, but I find most female comedians really inspiring. I have a lot of respect Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Kristen Wiig for not being afraid to look silly and proving how funny women can be.” – Sarah Wookey, Product Designer

“Naming my badass woman inspiration as Tina Fey seems cliché, but I get inspired by the woman who created the grossly flawed, hugely successful character of Liz Lemon. But I think that choice is cliché, because [tweet text=”Read why @Amanda_Works says @msTinyFey is THAT universally amazing”]Tina Fey is THAT universally amazing.”[/tweet] – Amanda Delzell, Recruiter, serious comedian and extreme fan of TV show ’30 Rock’ who has obsessively watched the show no fewer than 3 dozen times 

“Kathy Switzer was the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon (circa 1967). At the time women were considered too “fragile” to run long distances. During her race, an official attempted to physically remove her from the course, but she powered through. She faced serious backlash in the media and by race organizers even after she finished running 26.2 miles. After five more years of brutally advocating for women being allowed the basic right to run alongside men in the same event, Kathy and her cohort convinced the Boston Athletic Association (and the world) that women should be allowed to compete. I feel empowered by the ability to run and compete, and Kathy was on the front lines of passing on that freedom to amateur runners like me.” – Sarah Hilmer, Communications


“As a PhD physicist, Marie Curie has always been one of my idols.  Between 1901 and 2015, there have been 825 male winners of the Nobel prizes, but only 48 female winners. Marie Curie was not only the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, but she is also the only woman to date to have been awarded TWO (in 1903 for Physics and in 1911 for Chemistry). At a time when most women were forced to publish in scientific journals either jointly with their husbands or under a male pseudonym, Marie Curie made a name for herself in the scientific community. More recently, I also admire and respect Malala for her bravery and courage in standing up for girls’ rights to education in Pakistan. Both Marie Curie and Malala are wonderful role models and have made huge strides in empowering women and girls to further their education.” – Lisa Lakata, Customer Success Operations

“Tina Fey inspires me for being able to stay positive and not let bad things get to her. In her own words…Confidence is 10 per cent hard work and 90 per cent delusion.” – Masha Finkelstein, Demand Gen

“There are absolutely [tweet text=”BetterWomen have narrowed it down to the 23 women who inspire them the most”]so many woman that inspire me.[/tweet] If it’s just one, then I’ll go with Jennifer Thompson because she’s a 132 lb powerlifter who has the strongest bench press in the world, man or woman. It takes an inspiring amount of hard work, strength and courage, both mentally and physically, to step onto the platform and absolutely dominate.” – Maranda Geist, Engineer


“I am inspired by an array of baller women from Alicia Garza to Octavia Butler to Dorothy Allison to Sylvia Rivera, but at the end of the day I feel most empowered by women who are yet to achieve notoriety.  I love the women that remind me it is the little revolutionary moments every day that can make the world a better place. In particular, I admire my partner, Kelly Schuur who has been an out queer person in sales for years.  She stays true to herself everyday, and is currently building one of the most brilliant and diverse sales teams in technology at Intercom.” – Rachel Schiff, Account Executive

“Condoleezza Rice has broken down barriers for women by being the first to go where women weren’t allowed. Goodbye men-only clubs!” – Aileen Leeny, Office Manager

“Serena Willams could be down 3 match points for a grand slam final and still come back and win the tournament. Some people say women are emotional, well maybe women just [tweet text=” Some ppl say women are emotional. Maybe they just channel their emotions to #win ? says @menaka”]channel their emotions[/tweet] to #win ?.” – Menaka Shroff, Head of Marketing

serena williams

“Oprah Winfrey, despite challenging upbringing and criticism throughout her career, pushed  through and is now is arguably the most influential woman in the world.” – Tamara Cooksey, Head of People Operations

“Anita Sarkeesian – media personality, critic, public speaker, and role model for the new generation for game and entertainment media. She has bravely, and very publicly stood up against cyberbullying, threats, and hostile behavior towards women in the gaming and digital entertainment industry. I admire Anita for her ability to show her emotions during her worst times dealing with her attackers. Her response wasn’t a stoic, distant and untouchable figurehead for women but instead she reflected a feeling, empathetic and flawed person who admitted to her fear, hurt, and distress. Her strength comes from a place that levels with others and for that she’s relatable and inspirational in motivating me and others to [tweet text=”Read why BetterWorks product designer is so inspired by Anita Sarkeesian”]rally for equality.”[/tweet] – Tiya Tiyasirichockchai, Product Designer

“Jenny Blackburn was the first female manager I had in my career. She inspired me because she taught me what it meant to have gravits and how to help other functions understand the customer so that we always did the right thing. If you were a doormat, you were in trouble! Although she is not yet a woman, my niece Hannah is very inspiring to me too. She is 15 and has scoliosis. For the last 2 years she has worn a brace for close to 20 hours a day. The only time she isn’t wearing it is when she is dancing. This summer she was invited back to dance with The Rockettes (yes, the ones in NY). I have never heard her complain; she is brave and courageous for dealing with it.” – April Oman, Head of Customer Success

While these women have inspired us throughout history, and in our own careers, the brilliant women who surround us each and every day are the ones influencing our future. In the words of Sarah Sheikh, the third female employee at BetterWorks and the first female employee in our NYC office, “I’m continuously impressed by the women of BetterWorks. So if I can pick more than one (women who inspire me) then I would say all the women at BetterWorks. We kick ass, are humble, and want to foster a community of other rockstar BetterWomen.”


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