The Women We Look Up To

Real-deal role models.
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Real-deal role models.
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Given our differences in age and lifestyles, the editorial team has a lot in common—we're all driven and have fairly similar life goals for ourselves. But during a conversation over lunch in the office, we realized that despite our similarities, we each look up to different women as our role models. Each of us admire a variety of women for reasons that reflect what we each value most—from their ability to balance work and family life to their bravery in breaking barriers. Here are the women we most admire (friends and family members, excluded):

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Sheryl Sandberg: When Geoffrey and I were first considering getting pregnant, I had my concerns. As the founder of a business, which I ran largely out of my house at the time, I wasn't sure what bringing a baby into the equation would be like, so I looked to female entrepreneurs with families as case studies of what that balance could look like. Sandberg stood out as an example—particularly after the tragic death of her husband, which threw her unexpectedly into being a single mother. She has showed such strength and grace in the face of unimaginable loss, and has faced the new challenges it brought for her family while excelling at her job at the same time. Now that I'm a mom, her optimism and drive are all the more impressive and inspiring.

Ina Garten: Aside from the fact that we both married Geoffreys (well, Jeffrey, in her case) and love a good key lime pie, there are so many admirable qualities in Ina I only hope we share. She turned her passion—a small store in East Hampton—into a brand that included a television show and an ever-growing list of cookbooks (she just published her ninth), while maintaining the down-to-earth demeanor that made her so love-able in the first place. Plus, all of her recipes are pretty much nightly staples in our house. I once saw her at a hotel in L.A. and even being in her presence, watching her breeze through the lobby, was so exhilarating.

Mia Hamm: To this day, I can't even talk about Mia without tearing up since she had such a big impact on my life when I was a kid. As a soccer player growing up, nothing meant more to me than watching amazing female pro athletes, like Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain—they were heroes and wonderful role models. But Mia Hamm was always the one—we played the same position, and I loved how spunky, smart, and spirited she was. I try not to get ahead of myself with my aspirations for what Sloan ends up doing, but if she decides to play soccer, it would make me so happy.

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Beatrice Wood: I fiercely admire women of the past who made life choices that took more strength and trueness to oneself  than they would today, in terms of societal standards and gender norms at the time. Beatrice Wood was an amazing artist of the 20th century who built a fabulous single artist life for herself until she passed at the age of 105. To be a female who voluntarily decided not to get married; not to have children; and to just pursue her own interests and passions in the year 1915? I can't imagine the conviction that must have taken. Wood also had an infectious spirit and energy I love. There's a great documentary film on her, in which you see her sass and wit. She's the kind of woman who lit up any room she was in, and seemed so at ease with herself. That brand of confidence in a woman is always inspiring to me.

Marjorie Merriweather Post: Women with business acumen and an appreciation for the arts and history are my cup of tea. As the 27-year-old heir to the Postum Cereal Company, Post became the wealthiest woman in the United States in 1914. If you visit her impressive estate in Washington, D.C., (called Hillwood), it's apparent how shrewdly she managed her money and investments. She adored Russian art (as a history major with a fascination for Russian art/history in particular, this automatically aligns her to me), and was a lifelong collector, leaving behind some truly incredible artifacts for educational purposes at her house-museum. Like Wood, she seemed like a dazzling woman, and someone who wanted to leave behind a legacy that could benefit future generations, which I appreciate.

Gloria Steinem: It's almost intimidating to start a paragraph on why I love Gloria Steinem, but if you've never watched an interview with her, I suggest you do so. Her icon status and the past barriers she's broken down aside, I'm inspired by the current Gloria. She is a role model to me in terms of aging and having someone to look to who makes it look easy and comfortable to settle into. The woman is 82-years-old and literally still sexy. She makes me realize that you can be in your 80s and have true style—she wears flared jeans with hip belts and sheer-shoulder shirts, and it looks perfect. She's exactly who I would want to be at her age: funny, humble, genuinely self-effacing, and really with it. She makes 80 seem like 20.

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Nora Ephron: To me, Nora is a quintessential role model. As a journalist, she fearlessly addressed important women's issues (including a scathing response to our shared alma mater, Wellesley) and as a screenwriter and author, she gifted us with hilarious and insightful films like When Harry Met Sally and most recently, Julie and Julia. She's everything I want to be when I grow up: smart, driven, feminist, and funny.

Anita Hill: An often overlooked American hero, Hill had the bravery to testify in front of an entirely white, male panel of senators in 1991 against the now-Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas for sexually harassing her in the workplace. While Thomas was ultimately appointed (the decks were stacked against Hill), she made an enormous and lasting imprint on women's rights by bringing awareness to sexual harassment. She's a reminder to not take any of the rights I have for granted and to fight for equality, even when it's inconvenient or difficult.

Lauren Groff: Groff is a relatively new role model of mine, but her 2015 novel about a marriage, Fates & Furies, became an instant favorite—and launched an instant fascination with her. A mother of two and sister to the Olympic triathlete Sarah True, it's amazing how modest and down-to-earth she appears to be, given her talent (and talented family). She's an example of what hard work and passion can result in.