40 Wildly Successful Women Over 40 Who Are Changing Our World

Women over 40 are a massive source of inspiration and literally improving our quality of life. They are beautiful, they are smart. They influence politics and contemporary culture. These ladies are the proof: We can do it all, at any age. Whether in industries women have been or haven’t been dominating over the past few decades, these women over 40 are rocking their industry and giving back, paving the way for many more to be successful too

40.) Yael Eisenstat: From CIA to Agent of Change

Yael Eisenstat

Twitter / yaeleisenstat

Yael Eisenstats life is movie material: A Former C.I.A. officer and diplomat, who served as national security advisor to former Vice President Joe Biden, she is the founder a global risk advisory consultancy, providing intelligence-based advice to purpose-driven organizations. Eisenstat is also a writer and news commentator, speaks at women’s leadership events about working in male-dominated world and teaches National Security Decision Making. There is nothing this woman can not do.

Find Eisenstat on Twitter: @yaeleisenstat

39.) Nathalie Molina Niño: Investing to Impact Women Worldwide

Nathalie Molina Niño

This woman was born ready to succeed. She began her first tech startup at the age of 20 and is now helping others to do the same. Molina seeks to create change for women everywhere. She is a Founding Advisor of [email protected], an organization designed to support women of all ages through their journey to becoming entrepreneurs, providing them with internships opportunities and helpful resources. She gets the job done and shows that Latinas and immigrants in business are a force to reckon with.

Find Molina on Twitter: @NathalieMolina

38.) Tyra Banks: Model And Entrepreneur 

Women over 40

Instagram @tyrabanks

Banks was the first black woman to appear on the cover of GQ, the first African-American woman to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated and the first black woman to be featured in Victoria’s Secret lingerie catalogue. She became a role model for millions of people.

Not just for her accomplishments as a model, but also for being an absolute fighter and an active body positive campaigner. She has been ridiculed by the media, for gaining weight. But instead of feeling upset, she came out fighting and in doing so, reassured the many who struggled too.

Find Banks on Instagram: @tyrabanks

37.) Lashinda Stair: First Assistant Chief of Police

Lashinda Stair

Twitter / @DetPublicSafety

Stair is the first ever female, Afro-American Assistant Chief of Police in the Detroit Police Department and the first DPD member appointed to the rank of First Assistant Chief of Police, advising and encouraging especially female officers and actively supporting and mentoring young people. Together with Girls for Global Growth, she helps young people with issues of peer pressure, low self-esteem and bullying.

She is fighting for more officers on patrol and had a leading role in creating a civilian workforce for some internal units, which allowed the department to return Police Officers to patrol and is a huge innovation within the police.

36.) Melissa McCarthy: Actress And Leading Lady on TV And Film

women over 40

Instragram / @melissamccarthy

For some, the breakthrough comes later than forothers. At 41, McCarthy had almost given up.

Fast forward 6 years, she is now the most bankable comedy star in the world, showing everyone that weight is not more than a number on the scale. Before McCarthy made it into the cinemas, she had less than $5 in her bank account. Now she is teaching us to never stop pursuing our dreams.

Find McCarthy on Twitter: @melissamccarthy

35.) Myung J. Lee: Reinventing Community and Trust

Myung J. Lee

 Myung Lee is Executive Director of Cities of Service, a national nonprofit organization founded to help city officials engage local communities and solve problems together. She helping others make the connections that she didn’t have when starting her career. She rarely says no to informational interviews and loves to share what she has learned with younger generations. Myung teaches female staff members that it’s okay to be fierce and how important it is to use their voice.

Follow Lee on Twitter: @myunglee

34.) Pamela Anderson: Model, Animal Activist and Entrepreneur

Women over 40

More than a living bombshell and forever-famous Baywatch star: Pamela Anderson is making an impact as PETA spokesperson and AIDS activist. Smart and soulful, Anderson uses her unbroken popularity to raise awareness to causes that are close to her heart.

Follow Anderson on Instagram: @pamelaanderson

33.) Vivienne Westwood: Sustainable Fashion Icon

women over 40

Vivienne Westwood is a sustainable fashion pioneer.  Westwood speaks out about consumerism and advocates buying less but better. As a climate change activist, she got herself involved in politics being supporter of the green party of England and Wales.

Follow Westwood on Instagram: @viviennewestwood

32.) Libby Moore: Dream Catcher and Life Coach

Libby Moore

Life Coach, speaker and global adventurer: Libby Moore loves inspiring people! Formerly the Chief of Staff to Oprah Winfrey, Moore spent over a decade working with some of the world’s greatest thought leaders. Now Moore travels the world sharing her experiences.

Find out more abouther work: Libby Moore

31.) Fawzia Koofi: Politician 

women over 40

Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places on earth to live as a woman. Nonetheless, Parliament member and women’s rights activist Fawzia Koofi, made history by announcing her plans to run for president. Not the only “first-ever” Koofi has under her name. She also is the first woman to serve as Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament of Afghanistan, constantlydodging threats to her life. 

30.) Sheryl Sandberg: Facebook CEO 

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is a technology executive, activist, and author. She is well-known for being the chief operating officer of Facebook. She manages the platform’s sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy and communications. It’s a job that Sandberg seems made for – Proofing that badass women do indeed belong in tech.

29.) Wendy Sachs: Author and Thought Leader

Wendy Sachs

Sachs is the author of “Fearless and Free: How Smart Women Pivot and Relaunch Their Careers” and “How She Really Does It: Secrets of Successful Stayat-Work Moms”. She is not only a full time hustler, an Emmy-award winning TV news producer and editor-in-chief of Care.com (besides many other things), but also encourages women to take risks, create their own networks and become more resilient.

Sachs is currently writing and co-producing a documentary film series titled Surge, telling the stories of women who have announced their plans to run for the elected office,  in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.

Follow Wendy on Twitter: @wsachs

28.) Rose McGowan: Actor and Activist

Women over 40

Last year, the actress who became famous for her role in Charmed, was the loudest and angry cheerleader of the #metoo movement. The actress is one of the many of women who accused Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault. Now, McGowan smartly uses her huge platform to advocate for victims of abuse.

Follow McGowan on Instagram: @rosemcgowan

27.) Patty Jenkins: Filmmaker

Women over 40

Jenkins changed the film world when she racked in more than $800 million at the box office for “Wonder Woman”. It was the first time ever that a female director brought in such an absurd large amount of money. One should note, that it made her $9 million for writing and directing the new film, after making sure she got paid what the male equivalent would be. If it’s the beginning of a trend of equal pay for female directors? We will see!

Follow Patty on Twitter: @pettyjanks

26.) Roxane Gay: Bestselling Author

women over 40

Wise and deeply empathetic: Roxane Gay is the voice of a friend that you call for advice when things get rough. Her honest talk about searching for identity, being less than perfect, and thinking hard on privilege and acceptance, are inspiring. In her book of essays, the ”Bad Feminist” Gay lays out a vision of modern feminism, acceptance and identity including flaws and all. She exposing the unreasonable standards to which women are held, by themselves and by society.

Follow Roxane on Twitter: @rgay

Watch Roxane’s TED talk here.

25.) Sherry Huss: Making a Movement

Sherry Huss

A bridge builder across disciplines, Sherry Huss is the VP of Maker Media and Co-Creator of Maker Faire, a tech-influenced DIY community. She focuses special effort on helping girls, driving diversity and supporting underserved communities, strongly believing that each of our actions can make change.

Follow Sherry on Twitter: @SherryHuss

24.) Chelsea Handler: Comedian and Change-Maker

women over 40

Chelsea Handler’s talk show guests used to be the biggest reality stars of the time. A few years later Handler uses her Netflix deal to show politicians and activists, asking them uncomfortable questions, breaking down current events in a thorough, easy to understand and funny way, on an easy accessible medium.

Follow Chelsea on Instagram: @chelseahandler

23.) Stephanie Schriock: Political Strategist and Founder

women over 40

Leading EMILY’s List, Schriock has collected over $250 million to support female future politicians. The goal? To see a woman in the White House after the presidential elections in 2020.

22.) Kyra Phillips: Breaking Glass Ceilings in Journalism

Kyra Phillips

Veteran CNN reporter Kyra Phillips is an awarded journalist, currently working as a correspondent for CNN’s investigative and documentary units. She interviewed U.S. Presidents and icons such as Mother Teresa. Phillips is also the author of The Whole Life Fertility Plan, a guide to understanding and preserving fertility options, helping women with issues in career and family decision making. Phillips is currently working on a second book, which we can expect to be no less meaningful. 

Follow Kyra on Twitter: @cnnkyra

21.) Laverne Cox: Actress and LGBT Activist

Laverne Cox

After becoming famous through her role in “Orange is The New Black”, the transgender actress continues to advocate for LGBTQ people and other trans actors. She was the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, and the first openly transgender person to appear on the cover of TIME Magazine.

Follow Laverne on Instagram: @lavernecox

20.) Gabrielle Union: Actress and Author

women over 40

Gabrielle Union, the movie star known from “Being Mary Jane”, speaks out openly about sexual assault, struggles with infertility, insecurities and racial identity. Her book “We’re Going To Need More Wine.”, published in 2017, struck a nerve and became a New York Times best-seller.

Follow Gabrielle on Twitter: @itsgabrielleeu

19.) Julie Wainwright: Taking Consignment Shopping Mainstream

women over 40

Wainwright is the Founder of The RealReal, the leader in luxury consignment goods in e-commerce and one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. As an e-commerce pioneer, she has been in the industry for the last 25 years.

Follow Julia on Twitter: @RealRealJulie

18.) Abbey Clements: Teacher and Gun Control Advocate

Abbey Clements

Clements, 48, was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School when a gunman burst into the building and killed 20 children and six adults. Today she is fighting for a safer country alongside those affected by gun violence, as a volunteer leader of the Everytown Survivor Network and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. 

17.) Ai-jen Poo: Looking Out For Care-Givers Rights

women over 40

The activist and director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance lobbies hard for workers rights, trying to make invisible people seen. “We often times don’t even think of care work as real it’s referred as ‘help’ or ‘companionship’,” Poo told TIME. “Once you’ve become aware of it, all of a sudden it’s every where. What we have to do is figure out how to encourage people to make visible the relationship in our lives.”

Follow Ai-jen on Twitter: @ajenpoo

16.) Barbara Barend: Journalist and Activist

women over 40

Although the Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage back in 2001, it is not yet free of homophobia. An attack on two gay men caused local Journalist Barbara Barend to tweet out a call-to-action, asking for all men to walk hand in hand. And so they did just that under the hashtag #allemannenhandinhand. Politicians, athletes, policemen and civilians, were walking hand in hand through the streets in solidarity to the LGBTQ community.

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbarabarend

15.) Katie Jacobs Stanton: Digital Media Executive

women over 40

Katie Jacobs Stanton, the former head of media at Twitter, is the head of marketing for genestartup Color Genomics. Color Genomics wants to make cancer prevention via genetic testing accessible to everyone.

Follow Katie on Twitter: @katies

14.) Ava DuVernay:  Filmmaker Disrupting an Industry

Ava DuVernay

The 45-year-old is making history as the first black woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million. And she is known to take a stand when it comes to discrimination:

When DuVernay was recruiting only female directors for her show, “Queen Sugar”, an “old friend called her to tell warn her about complaints. Her response: “Thank you for that call. I invite you to tell whoever is feeling discriminated against to sue me so that I can sue every studio that has left women out . . . ’cause we can do this, if that’s what you want to do.”

Follow Ava on Twitter: @ava

13.) Stacey Abrams: Politician and (Possibly) Governor of Georgia

women over 40

Abrams is the first female and the first black nominee of a major party for a Georgia governor’s race. A victory will add to the small number of women who have served as state governors, the even smaller number of African-Americans (There have only been four black governors in American history), and she will become the first black female governor of any American state.

Follow Stacey on Twitter: @staceyabrams

12.) Tiffany Shlain: Emmy Award Winning Filmmaker And CEO

Tiffany Shlain

Tiffany Shlain is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, author, and speaker. The CEO of Let it Ripple film studio and founder of The Webby Awards, named her production company The Moxie Institute. A name picked to define its intentions: To capture stories and videos that take risks and deliver. Shlain was elected as one of Newsweek magazine’s “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” specifically but not exclusively for promoting gender equity and collective purpose in her work.   

Follow Tiffany on Twitter: @tiffanyshlain

11.) Asieh Amini: Journalist and Activist

women over 40

The founder of the “Stop Stoning Forever” campaign, fights to put an end to a cruel form of punishment for women who are convicted of adultery in Iran: “Civil society and women’s rights activists should have freedom to help society and the country, but unfortunately this freedom doesn’t exist. So many activists are in prison. Still, I am a very hopeful person. I think to be an activist you need hope” told Amini the Nobel’s Women Initiative.

10.) Indira Ranamagar: Human Rights Activist

women over 40

The founder of Prisoner’s Assistance Nepal, an organization fighting for prisoners and their children in the poorest and most rural areas of Nepal. Ranamagar has been working to promote human rights for these people for almost 30 years.

Follow Indira on Twitter: @indira_aama

9.) Stephanie McMahon: Business Woman and Wrestler With a Heart

women over 40

Chief brand officer of the WWE and professional wrestler McMahon is also the founder of the non-profit Connor’s Cure, which raised $1 million to help fight pediatric cancer.

Follow Stephanie on Instagram: @stephaniemcmahon

8.) Maggie Haberman: Journalist

Maggie Haberman

Haberman is a political analyst for CNN and the New York Times’ most read author, who by the way, turned down the opportunity to break the announcement of Trump’s candidacy in The New York Times. On her Twitter account, she delivers news faster than any colleague.

So why don’t you go ahead and follow her onTwitter: @maggieNYT

7.) Sarah Silverman: Comedian on a Mission

women over 40

Stepping outside her comfort zone, the comedian traveled across the US to meet people who don’t share her political points of view and find common ground. For her show ”I Love You, America,” she attempts to reach across the aisle and generate laughs in the process.

Follow Sarah on Instagram: @sarahkatesilverman

6.) Kimberley Bryant: Founder and Biotech Engineer

women over 40

Kimberly Bryant, a former biotech engineer, set off on a path to change the ratio of ethnic and gender diversity in the homogenous tech industry. She founded Black Girls Code, an educational outreach program, teaching girls the skills and giving them confidence to pursue careers in robotics, game design, and app development.

Follow Kimberly on Twitter: @6gems

5.) Joanne C. Bamberger: Editor and  Founder

Her book, “Mothers of Intention”, shone a light on how the power of women using social media could create a stronger female voice in American politics. Her goal is setting an example for her teenage daughter: “I’ve talked with her about the dangers of echo chambers, and we’ve discussed the bravery of many women in history who have voiced opinions that were unpopular at the time, but who have subsequently proven to be right,” says Bamberger. 

Follow Joanne on Twitter: @JLCBamberger

4.) June Sugiyama: Director and Mentor

June Sugiyama

As director of the Vodafone’s Wireless Innovation Project, June Sugiyama is granting $600,000 every year to fund wireless technology projects that address global social issues. Through the course of her career, Sugiyama learned to not loose nerves over every challenge: “Only sweat over things you can do something about and do it,” she says.

3.) Farah Mohamed: Founder and CEO 

women over 40

The former political strategist, brand manager and government spokesperson in her career, found her true calling in her forties, when she became a social entrepreneur working on behalf of young girls. “I am grateful that at this point in my life I know what I want in my professional life, and perhaps as crucial, what I don’t want. I feel equipped to take the risks needed to obtain the former,” she says.

Follower Farah on Twitter: @farahpmohamed

2.) Roselinde Torres: Leadership Expert

women over 40

Roselinde Torres is a senior partner and managing director at the consulting firm, BCG. She is also the company’s resident expert on leadership, a topic she has studied her entire career, asking questions such as “what innovative methods can help prepare the next generation of leaders?” and “how do we enable leaders to unlearn past modes and habits of success?”

1.) Carol Dweck: Professor of Psychology

Carol Dweck

Dweck explores the brain differences of people who have a “growth mindset” and those who don’t. “I heard about a high school in Chicago where students had to pass a certain number of courses to graduate, and if they didn’t pass a course, they got the grade “Not Yet.”, explains Dweck, “And I thought that was fantastic, because if you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade “Not Yet” you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.”

Watch Carol Dweck’s TED Talk here!

Who’s your favorite woman over 40? Is there a woman you aspire to be? Let us know in the comments below.

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