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40 Inspiring Quotes From Trailblazing Women We Admire editorial staff, writer
Sep 22, 2015
Image Credit: sirtravelalot/Shutterstock
> Human Resources

In honor of American Business Womens' Day, here are 40 inspiring quotes from the most powerful women throughout history.

Today we celebrate American Business Women's Day, and honor the many women that have worked tirelessly to carve out a very meaningful place in the world of business for women. We've come a long way, indeed, but even as women have risen to become an integral and necessary part of the modern workplace, we still face inequality. 

In her powerful book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg shared that women are 57% of college graduates and 63% of masters degree holders, but according to U.S. News & World Report, women still only make 78% of what men do, on average. They go one to state that "the gap is even greater for women of color: non-Hispanic black women made 64 percent of what men made in 2013, and Hispanic women earned 56 percent of what men earned."

Though inequality still exists, women have proved that we won't stop until we reach the top, and that climb remains in motion today. Start your day with 40 quotes from trailblazing women we admire.

Words of wisdom

1. “We must develop a thick skin. With an unshakeable sense of self – and a commitment to being compassionate – nothing will faze you.” - Mari Smith, Social Media Marketer known as the “Facebook Queen.”

2. “Nasty Gal would have surely failed had it been my goal to grow a business to the size that I have today.” Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal founder and author of #GirlBoss.

3. “Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.” - Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court.

4. “Do one thing every day that scares you.” - Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest serving First Lady of the United States.

5. “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself.  Aloud.” - Coco Chanel, iconic fashion designer.

6. “Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down, and trust your instincts. Good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don't hurt. They're not painful. That's not just with somebody you want to marry, but it's with the friends you choose. It's with the people you surround yourself with.” - Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States.

Related Article: Ladies Take the Wheel: How Women are Driving Business Innovation

7. "I want little girls to grow up knowing they can do anything, even play football." - Jen Welter, the NFL’s first female coach.

8. “Champions keep playing until they get it right.” - Billie Jean King, American tennis player who fought for equal prize money for female athletes.

9. “You can have it all.  Just not all at once.” - Oprah Winfrey, television personality. 

10. “I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women." - Nora Ephron, screenwriter

Advice to listen to

11. “To love what you do and feel like it matters, how could anything be more fun?” - Katherine Graham, first American female Fortune 500 CEO.

12. “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” - Gertrude Stein, American author

13. “When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m thirsty, I drink. When I feel like saying something, I say it.” - Madonna, American entertainer and first female billionaire of pop music

14. “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.” - Maya Angelou, author of “Why the Caged Bird Sings,” the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.

15. “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.” - Florence Nightingale, nurse.

16. “I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.” - Gloria Steinem, journalist and social activist fighting for women’s rights.

17. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” - JK Rowling, author.

18.“Decide...whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying." - Amelia Earhart, pilot.

Related Article: Women-Owned Businesses Are Less Likely to Exceed $1M in Sales. So What?

19. “No one has ever become poor by giving.” - Anne Frank

20. "Our theory is, if you need the user to tell you what you're selling, then you don't know what you're selling, and it's probably not going to be a good experience." Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

21. “Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” - Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook and author of Lean In.

Unique perspective

22. “I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet.” - Susan B. Anthony, activist in the women’s suffrage movement.

23. “If you follow your heart, if you listen to your gut, and if you extend your hand to help another, not for any agenda, but for the sake of humanity, you are going to find the truth.” - Erin Brockovich, environmental activist.

24. “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” - Lucille Ball, first woman to head a major Hollywood television studio.

25. “I was taught to strive not because there were any guarantees of success but because the act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life.” - Madeleine Albright, first female U.S. Secretary of State.

26. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.” - Harriet Tubman, African-American abolitionist.

27.  “Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.” - Marie Curie, first female Nobel Prize recipient

28. “There are lots of opportunities out there for women to work in these fields, girls just need support, encouragement and mentoring to follow through with the sciences.” - Sally Ride, first American female to go into space.

29. “Some leaders are born women.” - Geraldine Ferraro, first female Vice Presidential candidate.

30. “To stay ahead, you must have your next idea waiting in the wings.” - Rosabeth Moss Kanter, academic and business leader who coined terms such as “empowerment” and “employee participation.”

31.  “Each person must live their life as a model for others.” - Rosa Parks, civil rights activist.

32. “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” Helena Rubenstein, American business woman who started one of the world’s first cosmetic companies.

33.  “Do not be afraid to make decisions.  Do not be afraid to make mistakes.” - Carly Fiorina, first female CEO of a Fortune 20 company.

34. “I always want to make films. I think of it as a great opportunity to comment on the world in which we live.” - Kathryn Bigelow, first female to win an Academy Award for Best Director.

Different is good

35. “I was probably, definitely, not normal.  I was reading Moby Dick from start to finish when I was about nine. I read a ton of books. I still have a notebook with a complete design for a time machine that I designed when I must have been, like, seven. The wonderful thing about the way I was raised is that no one ever told me that I couldn’t do those things.” - Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos and America’s youngest female billionaire.

36. “The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of a mistake.” - Meg Whitman, first female to run two large U.S. public companies, eBay and HP.

37. “If we are going to be part of the solution, we have to engage the problems.” - Majora Carter, urban revitalization strategist.

38.  “You create opportunities by performing, not complaining.” - Muriel Siebert, first female member of the New York Stock Exchange

39. “None of us can know what we are capable of until we are tested.” - Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman to graduate from medical school in the U.S.

40. “If you obey all of the rules, you miss all of the fun.” Katherine Hepburn, actress.

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