It's Official: Michelle Obama Is the Most Admired Woman in the World—and Keeps Paying It Forward

Former first lady Michelle Obama discusses her book “Becoming” on Dec. 19, 2018, in New York City.
Photo: Dia Dipasupil (Getty Images)

Confirming what most of us already know, a new poll places Michelle Obama atop its list of the most admired women in the world. As reported by the Hill, an annual study by global market research company YouGov places two black women in the top spots; Obama is followed by close friend Oprah Winfrey in second place, both moving up to unseat Angelina Jolie, who slipped from first to third this year.

Priding itself on compiling unbiased, nonpartisan data from 42,000 respondents in 41 countries, the study simply asked, “Thinking about people alive in the world today, which [man or woman] do you most admire?” Former President Barack Obama once again landed in second place among most admired men in the world, behind Bill Gates—and in case you’re wondering, Donald Trump lags far behind in 14th place among men (which must infuriate him) while Melania Trump is 19th among women. And though the list is heavy with celebrity influence, with “12 of the most admired women being actresses, singers or TV presenters,” neither Beyoncé nor Rihanna made the top 20 international list, though Taylor Swift and Madonna land firmly in the 10th and 11th spots, respectively.

Advertisement

In America’s Top 10 lists, it’s once again Michelle and Barack for the win, with both occupying the top spots. Oprah comes in a respectable sixth, just ahead of Condoleeza Rice, and the men’s list includes Trump, Dwayne “The Rock Johnson, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Will Smith.

But while our forever first lady-turned-bestselling author is globally recognized for her greatness, she’s still doing the work here at home; on July 23, she’ll be at Howard University to host the fifth annual Beating the Odds Summit to support first-generation college-bound students.

The summit is part of the Reach Higher Initiative, launched by the former first lady during her tenure in the White House, where the first summit was comprised of a small roundtable of students in 2014. This year’s celebration will host over 50 college-bound students selected by local nonprofits who’ve faced various challenges in becoming first-generation college attendees. During the day-long workshop, they will receive support and strategies designed to help them succeed in higher education.

Advertisement

Per a release:

In today’s global knowledge-based economy, it’s imperative that young people continue their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, a four-year college or university, or in the military. Up to forty percent of low-income students who graduate from high school with a plan for postsecondary education fail to show up on campus to start their classes, due to a phenomenon known as Summer Melt. This convening is meant to help give students the additional guidance, encouragement, and social-emotional support they need so they continue to beat the odds and get a degree.

Advertisement

Formerly partnered by Twitter and Spotify, this year, Mrs. Obama will be joined by Wes Moore from the Robin Hood Foundation; Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles, and leaders from the Opportunity Network and YouTube, which will air a livestream of Mrs. Obama’s panel for students around the country.

“Mrs. Obama, as a first-generation student herself, knows what it feels like to head off to college without the same support system as others,” says Eric Waldo, executive director of Reach Higher and Chief Access and Equity Officer at Common App, which currently hosts the Reach Higher Initiative. “Pursuing post-secondary education opens doors for students and helps them reach their full potential. We’re thrilled to celebrate the [fifth] anniversary of Reach Higher and Beating the Odds and ensure more first-generation and underrepresented students enter college with the information and tools they need to succeed in class and in their career.”

Share This Story

About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.