11 Women To Inspire Our Daughters in the Working World

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By Laura Lambert, Mom.com

While the stats remain sobering — only 6% of CEOs in the top 3,000 US companies are women; the raw number, 167, is still double what it was 10 years ago — the women who are in charge are here to inspire the next generation.


Anne Wojcicki

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CEO, 23andMe

Anne Wojcicki co-founded the personal genetics company 23andMe in 2006, and a little more than a decade later had landed at No. 33 on Forbes’ list of the richest self-made women. But her business objectives are much broader in scope. “I ... believe that the more people learn about their own DNA, the more they will recognize their connection to everyone on the planet,” Wojcicki told Marie Claire. “Knowing that 23andMe has reunited families, answered unknown questions, and saved lives makes me feel like we are on a worthy mission.”


Jessica Alba

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Co-founder, The Honest Company

Actress Jessica Alba co-founded The Honest Company in 2011. “I never expected to own a business,” Alba told Fortune. But, frustrated that she couldn’t find safe, affordable baby products when she first became a mom, she decided to create her own, along with co-founder Brian Lee. “I created Honest.com because, as a mom, I needed it, wanted it, and believed we could make the world a better place for my children and families everywhere.”


Lisa Price

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Founder, Carol's Daughter

In 1993, Lisa Price began making essential oil-based natural hair and beauty products in her Brooklyn, New York, kitchen. When she sold her company to L'OrĂ©al in 2014, it was worth $27 million. Price said, of being the only woman of color at the table many times throughout her career, “It’s about knowing that there are preconceived ideas that people will have when you walk in the room, and not focusing on them,” she told NBC News. “You focus on your business, you focus on your numbers. Numbers always speak louder than any prejudice. ... Whatever bias someone has, you have no control over it.”


Shiza Shahid

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Former CEO, Malala Fund

Shiza Shahid made her name in her 20s as the right hand to Malala Yousafzai and founding CEO of the Malala Fund, which was created to empower girls through advocacy, storytelling, and entrepreneurship. The Pakistani social entrepreneur, who went on to found Now Ventures, a seed fund for mission-driven startups, Shahid most recently co-founded Our Place, a line of cookware “for the modern, multiethnic American kitchen.” Our Place is also driven by a socially conscious ethos. “We’ve been trying very hard to invest in women in all that we do,” she told Life & Thyme. “That’s a choice that everyone can make. If you’re working in a company, you can look harder to find a candidate who is a woman or a person of color or an immigrant and give them the mentorship that will allow them to succeed.”


Elaine Welteroth

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Former editor-in-chief, Teen Vogue

When Elaine Welteroth became editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue in 2017, she was, at 29, the youngest person and only the second person of color to helm any of Conde Nast’s big-name magazines. (Welteroth had also been the magazine’s first black beauty director.) “I didn’t walk to the table with my fist up,” Welteroth told The Guardian. “I was a 25-year-old black woman who worked hard to get a dream job, then found out in the headlines that in fact I had become a black woman making history.” By the time Welteroth left Teen Vogue in 2018, she had given the fashion magazine a socially conscious makeover, earning it headlines like, The True Story of How Teen Vogue Got Mad, Got Woke, and Began Terrifying Men Like Donald Trump.


Sarah Miyazawa LaFleur

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Co-founder and CEO, M.M.LaFleur

Sarah LaFleur co-founded M.M.LaFleur, a direct-to-consumer clothing brand for working women, in 2011, because she hated getting dressed in the morning for her corporate job. “We tend to think of being unhappy as a negative thing,” LaFleur told The Cut. “But there’s a lot of good that can come out of listening to why you’re so unhappy. It’s important to remember that your career actually spans 40, sometimes 50, years. The little changes that you make at a certain point in your career are really a blip on the radar, and not this life-changing moment.”


Jenn Hyman

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Co-founder and CEO, Rent the Runway

Jenn Hyman co-founded Rent the Runway in 2009 — and in 2018, at nine months pregnant, became one of fewer than 20 women to run a private U.S. company valued at more than $1 billion. But she does not take her achievements for granted. “Most people don't get to choose what type of job that they want,” Hyman told Forbes. “I think that a lot of the power that I have now is because of the luck that I had in terms of where I was born and the family that I was born into, and I never forget that. I don't think that I'm here because I'm smarter or I'm more capable [than] other people. I think I've been given a lot more chances.”


Sara Blakely

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Founder, Spanx

In 1998, with just $5,000 in capital, a 27-year-old Sara Blakely launched the shapewear brand Spanx — which is now a household name akin to Kleenex. Blakely was named the youngest self-made female billionaire by Forbes in 2012, and has continued to support women in business. In April 2020, she pledged $5,000 to 1,000 female entrepreneurs hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, for a total of $5 million. “I know first hand what it’s like to be a small business owner,” she told Fortune. “As a woman it can be lonely and scary, especially during a time like this. Small business is the backbone of our culture, and I want to help.”


Emily Weiss

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Founder and CEO, Glossier

In 2010, Emily Weiss, then a fashion assistant at Vogue, launched a beauty blog called Into the Gloss. “I got a master’s in the state of beauty through Into the Gloss,” Weiss told Vanity Fair. And then she transformed that knowledge into her own beauty brand, Glossier, in 2014, with just four products. “The beauty industry historically won dollars by making women feel like they weren’t enough,” Weiss said. “When Glossier launched, we made people feel good about themselves and want the products.” The company is now a billion-dollar brand.


Angelica Nwandu

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Founder, The Shade Room

The Shade Room, an Instagram-based media company that follows celebrities and black culture, is the third-most actively engaged account on the platform. And, said its founder, Angelica Nwandu, it happened a bit by accident. “We disrupted the industry by accident because I didn’t know how to create a website,” Nwandu said. “My biggest weakness that I was insecure about, was actually able to be used to propel this business further.”


Alexa von Tobel

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Founder, LearnVest

“In the case of LearnVest, necessity was the mother of invention,” founder Alexa von Tobel wrote in a piece for Time magazine. “I wanted someone to help me understand what to do with my money. I also knew my idea was big enough to help more people like me.” In 2009, von Tobel dropped out of Harvard Business School at age 25 to start the personal finance website for women. The business was acquired in 2015 (just a few days before von Tobel gave birth to her first child). In 2019, she launched a new venture fund, Inspired Capital.

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