35 Life Changing TED Talks For Women, By Women

There is no doubt that TED Talks can challenge the way we think and are shared by some incredible thought leaders in the world. These are some seriously powerful TED Talks by women, for women.

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There are some seriously amazing, powerful, and influential women in this world Luckily for us – they give TED Talks and share their wealth of knowledge, their insights, and challenge us to think differently about our world and our place in it.

As a massive fan of TED Talks, I have found myself drawn to talks by fascinating women that have a message aimed towards women. This doesn’t mean they are to the exclusion of men, but they just feel like as a women, we are being seen and we are being heard.

This is a collection of some incredible TED Talks by women, for women, on a wide range of topics. They cover everything from career and happiness, to marriage and love (for others and for yourself), from productivity through to parenthood – there’s something here for everyone.

While this is a huge list, I couldn’t help but include all of these talks. Feel free to bookmark this page, save it, share it, or binge-watch all the talks now:

1 – “Everything Happens For A Reason” – And Other Lies I’ve Loved – Kate Bowler

Have you always believed, or have always been told, that good things happen to good people? Be good, be kind, and you’ll be rewarded. Or have you heard the overused cliche ‘everything happens for a reason?’

An insightful TED Talk about the beauty and difficulties in life, that challenges that come with facing your own mortality and how it can make you look differently at the world around you.

2 – A Better Way To Talk About Love – Mandy Len Catron

How do you talk about love? The words we use are powerful and can influence us in forming perceptions about our lives. This talk seriously opened my eyes as to how I talk about love and my marriage.

It’s seriously amazing to think that the words we use to describe love are linked to the way we expect love to look, feel and play out. Like self-fulfilling prophecies. Very interesting.

3 – Dear Overwhelmed Moms, Self-Care Isn’t Selfish – Liz Carlile

‘Mothers not only could, but should be more selfish.’ Yes, yes, yes!!!

Seriously, this is something I advocate for so darn much! What can you do to feel whole and ready for your days? Have you ever actually thought about what it is that fills your cup and brings you joy? It might take a few trials for figure out what it is that you need.

Self care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. What you do for you each and every day changes everything and actively taking care of yourself can help you cope with overwhelm.

4 – 3 Lessons On Success From An Arab Business Woman – Leila Hoteit

Leila talks of how Arab women have had to become their own role models in this modern world as the generations before them had different values for women and that the women of today are taking on more in the professional world while also attending to family.

The lessons she speaks of don’t only apply to Arab women, there are a lot of obstacles she speaks of that we can understand in our lives too. And her lessons are ones we can apply too.

5 – Can We All ‘Have It All’? – Anne-Marie Slaughter

How often are we caught up in the question of how we should balance our work and career goals and our family life? How do we choose what is most important to us?

And as mothers, what does male and female equality really mean? Does having women in high powered jobs represent real male and female equality?

Fantastic talk about the often unspoken side of the gender equality debate.

6 – For Parents, Happiness Is A Very High Bar – Jennifer Senior

Parenting + Anxiety is something many of us know all too well. There’s no manual on how to raise children properly, so the idea of raising children to a standard that isn’t actually determined is pretty darn stressful.

This talk is like a big hug of ‘you’re doing okay mama’. Love it.

7 – A New Way To Think About The Transition To Motherhood – Alexandra Sacks

The birth of a baby brings the birth of a mother – one of, if not the most transformative events in a woman’s life.

But when you don’t live up to your own expectations, or societies expectations of you to just naturally adapt to motherhood, it can make you feel like you’re inadequate and not capable of being a mother.

Talk about this transition with other women, talk about it with your partner, talk about it with your own mother, and when we talk about it more, we start to understand that we are not alone.

A great short TED Talk that all mothers should watch.

8 – Getting Rid Of 1000 Things – Liz Wright

Liz talks about an idea she had of getting rid of 1000 things from her very normal and average home.

This really hits home when Liz talks about getting rid of things that have been given to you as a gift – this is something a lot of people struggle with as they feel it will be offensive. So she gave herself permission to remove these items if she wanted.

There are some great ideas on how to choose what to get rid of in your home and how you can tell if you need or want them anymore. And I love her challenge to everyone at the end.

9 – How To Gain Control Of Your Free Time – Laura Vanderkam

Are you always looking for little pockets of time in the day to do all the things you love? Maybe you’ve got it the wrong way around.

I’m a massive advocate for figuring out the things you want to do in your life, and building the rest of your day around that (especially when it comes to self care!).

10 – Hire A Mom! How 10 Years At Home made Me A Better Leader At Google – Martha Ivester

This is a longer talk, but truly worth the time to watch.

As women and as mothers we know our skills and value that we can bring to a workplace, but convincing employers of this can be difficult, sometimes impossible.

The ability to create or main a career while being a mother can seem incredibly overwhelming, but this talk will change the way you think about mothers in the workforce.

11 – An ER Doctor On Triaging Your ‘Crazy Busy’ Life – Darria Long

The words we use matter and ‘crazy busy’ is a phrase we have all used at some point. But did you know that by simply saying ‘crazy busy’ you’re preparing yourself to not actually be able to handle what is coming your way?

You can be busy, without being crazy, and be in ready mode instead.

As someone who works in the Emergency Medical field, I can relate to the triaging system in your life and it’s easy for you to implement too.

Simply triaging different areas of your life can make a world of difference to that feeling of overwhelm, especially when you start moving more tasks to the ‘Green’ category.

12 – How Do You Define Yourself? – Lizzie Velasquez

“What’s wrong with me?” The question, as parents, we hope our children never ask us.

Lizzie was faced with difficult challenges in her life, an extremely rare genetic disorder that affects her ability to gain weight, thus affecting her appearance, but she doesn’t let that define her.

This talk made me sit back and wonder what I let define me, or how I choose to define myself. Prepare for the tears as she talks about being labelled as ‘the worlds ugliest woman’.

13 – How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over – Mel Robbins

1/3 of Americans feel dissatisfied with their life right now. Are you one of them?

What is it you want in your life? Like, REALLY want. Mel talks all about getting what you want… and that it is incredibly simple.

How often have you used the ‘F’ word lately? And it’s not the ‘F’ word you think… it’s the word that helps you move from living a life of not achieving what you want, vs living a life where YOU are in control of your behaviours.

Seriously love the 5 second rule she talks about too! Such a great way to stop spending so much time in the state of inaction, and just get things done (life organization for the win!).

14 – If I Should Have A Daughter … – Sarah Kay

Such a beautiful talk that starts with an incredible spoken word poem that will get you thinking about what we want for our kids in this world.

I love how Sarah talks about breaking down the walls of communication with her students (particularly teenagers) who feel as though they have nothing to say, but using her methods actually find they can open up and share their thoughts.

15 – How To Spot A Liar – Pamela Meyer

This is one of the first TED Talks I ever watched and I still love it.

On any given day we are lied to between 10 and 200 times. That’s incredible.

Lying costs businesses billions of dollars and has a major impact on the economy. Lying is a killer of marriages, and we all lie. Every single person. Deception in some way, shape or form.

Want to learn how you can spot a lie? This talk will show you some of the ways. It’s highly entertaining and interesting.

16 – It’s OK To Feel Overwhelmed. Here’s What To Do Next – Elizabeth Gilbert

Be warned, this is a long talk, pop it on and have a listen because I promise it is worth it (the talk takes a few minutes to start so maybe just scroll ahead).

One of the most popular and admired TED Speakers by far would have to be Elizabeth Gilbert – author of Eat, Pray, Love.

In this talk she addresses the rapidly changing face of our world through the pandemic, how it is okay to feel overwhelmed, and what we can do to cope with this feeling over overwhelm in order to find a more sustainable way to approach this situation.

17 – Know Your Worth And Ask For It – Casey Brown

When was the last time you asked for a pay rise? Did you negotiate your salary or was your salary determined for you?

This is a great talk to get you thinking about how much money you earn and if it is a representation of what you think of yourself or if it has been set by someone else.

Even more interesting for those who work for themselves and set their own prices – so many people (women in particular) undervalue themselves and undercharge for their time/services.

18 – How To Turn Busy Into Balance – Sara Cameron

Up until a few years ago I used the term ‘busy’ to describe my life.

Literally every single time someone asked me how I was, how my day was, or how I have been lately, I would always answer with ‘busy, good… but busy’. Do you do that too?

It was almost like a badge of honour… like in order to be ‘worthy’ I had to be busy and productive (not that busy = productive). Are you turning to busy in order to avoid confronting difficult areas in you life?

Identifying why we feel like we need to be busy is the first step in moving from busy to balance.

19 – Listening To Shame – Brené Brown

In a follow-up to her previous TED talk, Brené clarifies that vulnerability is not weakness, as many believe, but is actually courage.

She encourages us to never be afraid to fail and that shame is what makes us fear failure. Brené also explains that while guilt is a result of feeling like you have done a bad thing, shame is a result of feeling that you are a bad person.

It is also explained that empathy is the antidote to shame. There is a reason why this talk has been listened to almost 7 million times and the last 60 seconds are absolutely amazing.

20 – Monogamish: The New Rules Of Marriage – Jessica O’Reilly

Is marriage destined to fail? With a 50/50 chance of ‘survival’ are they the kind of odds you want to take? Perhaps our current form of marriage has design flaws and needs to be reassessed and challenged.

Could monogamish be the answer to a happy marriage, where there’s thought, but not action, talk but not touch?

I’ve read studies before that support this theory, and this is a great talk that explains it.

21 – My Year Of Saying Yes To Everything – Shonda Rhimes

If you’ve read her book ‘A Year of Saying Yes’ you’ll know Shonda’s story (if not, it’s an awesome book, check it out). Shonda talks of losing her ‘hum’ – the addictive thing that gave her joy in her work and how she found that hum again.

She also talks of the power of play and the fact that we can all find 15 minutes, even on our worst day. “Work doesn’t work without play.I love that she doesn’t deny that she loves working more than she loves being at home.

I relate to the love of work and find that I feel like I shouldn’t love my work as much as I do now that I’m a mother.

But it doesn’t mean that my family isn’t important to me, and that they don’t give me my ‘hum’, but that work is still important to me too.

22 – Looks Aren’t Everything. Believe Me, I’m A Model. – Cameron Russell

Pay attention to the first 30 seconds of this talk and see how quickly your perception of Cameron changes, it’s amazing.

We’ve all, at some stage, judged someone based on their looks. And, we’ve all, at some stage, been judged on our looks. But looks aren’t everything.

This is a shorter talk that packs a whole lot of thought and might make you question yourself next time you go to judge someone or next time you’re feeling judged.

23 – Parenting Through Postpartum Depression – Camille Mehta

Covering a topic that affects far more women than we realise (and men too!). This is such an important topic that we need to talk about a whole lot more.

As someone who has had postnatal anxiety, this one hits home, but also reminds me that I’m not alone. This really is an amazing TED Talk to watch – one I challenge everyone to watch.

24 – One Life-Changing Class You Never Took – Alexa Von Tobel

Our lack of formal education about personal finance means we are learning through trial and error, no wonder we are getting it so wrong!

It’s the number one thing young people stress out about and so, so many people feel like their personal finances are out of their control. We need more help, but where do we go?

The number of people living paycheck to paycheck is alarming. Our personal finance education needs to change.

This is an incredibly eye-opening talk that helps us realise how we got to where we are now.

25 – Success, Failure And The Drive To Keep Creating – Elizabeth Gilbert

How easy is it to just give up when things become tough… or uncomfortable.

Elizabeth talks about how even when we have been greatly successful, we still have a fear of failure, as she experienced after the wild success of her book Eat, Pray, Love.

I love the idea that we have a ‘home’ – not a physical home as such, but one in which we are happy, content and safe, the place we keep coming back to regardless of successes or failures.

26 – The Magic Of Not Giving A F*** – Sarah Knight

Any talk that starts with ‘the life giving magic of not giving a f*ck’ is going to get my attention.

This, obviously, comes with a swearing warning, but even if swearing gets under your skin, you’ll still love this talk.

We talk a lot about physical decluttering, throwing out excess in our life, but this talk looks closer at mental decluttering. Choosing what and who you give you ‘f*cks’ to.

This is huge for those of us who are people pleasers. If this talk seriously floats your boat, then you can dive deeper into the magic of not giving a f*ck with Sarah’s book. It’s an awesome read.

27 – Skills For Healthy Romantic Relationships – Joanne Davila

“We may know what a healthy relationship looks like, but most people have no idea how to get one, and no one teaches us how to do so. We need to teach people how to have healthy relationships.”

So many people look to fix their relationships with therapy and look to then have a healthy relationship, but by then it could be too late. We need to learn how to have a healthy relationship right from the start.

This is a great talk that gives you ideas of how to get a healthy relationship, and how to avoid an unhealthy one.

28 – The Power Of Vulnerability – Brené Brown

Possibly one of the most popular TED talks of all time, this talk questions whether or not you believe you are worthy, asks why and how we numb our emotions and why vulnerability is so important.

One of my favourite messages is the need to treat ourselves kindly in order to practice compassion – because unless we are compassionate with ourselves we cannot be compassionate with others.

Find her book here – The Gifts of Imperfection

29 – Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection – Reshma Saujani

A great talk for parents of girls – challenging the way we approach our way of talking to our girls and how we encourage them in taking risks, rather than being ‘perfect’.

It really makes you think socialising girls to be brave and the differences that can be made by closing the gender gap.

30 – The Price Of Shame – Monica Lewinsky

We all make mistakes in our lives, (especially when we are younger) but what is the price of your mistakes? How far will your actions reach?

It’s sad that we have to live in a world where our mistakes can be dragged to all corners of the world and internet and things can quickly go viral.

Cyberbullying is never okay. Ever.

I could go on for hours about this topic, we all know someone who has experienced cyberbullying to some extent – and if you think you don’t, ask your friends. I assure you, you know someone who has felt the sharp sting of cyberbullying.

An incredibly compelling talk, an absolute ‘must watch’ (and I have to admit, it even made me cry).

31 – What Adults Can Learn From Kids – Adira Svutak

This might not technically be a talk by a ‘woman’ but I’m counting it anyway. I absolutely adore this TED Talk, and not just because it’s being presented by a 12 year old.

Adora challenges learning to be a two way street, where children learn from adults and adults learn from children. She talks about how children don’t see obstacles like adults do and therefore their scope of possibilities is much wider.

A great reminder for us when we keep saying ‘you can’t do that’ to our kids (I know I do…).

32 – Why Thinking You’re Ugly Is Bad For You – Meghan Ramsey

This one will rock you, like to the core.

As women, we obsess about our appearance. Even the most confident of us worry at some point about how we look and what others think about how we look.

This is one talk I watch regularly and am captivated every single time. And it’s one I will be making my children watch for sure.

It makes me wonder, what am I benchmarking myself against without even realising. It certainly makes me rethink the way I look at myself as well as the way I speak to myself.

“6 out of 10 girls are now choosing to not do something because they don’t think they look good enough.”

33 – Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are – Amy Cuddy

Start thinking about your body actions and how the way you use your body language to convey who you are and how you position yourself in this world.

Your body actions have a huge impact in so many areas of your life, far deeper than you would initially think. We are also influenced by our own body language and the non-verbal expressions of power and dominance vs the expressions when you’re feeling powerless and how we make ourselves smaller.

So incredibly interesting.

Find her book here – Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self To Your Biggest Challenges

34 – Why Moms Are Miserable – Sheryl Ziegler

While we have come far as a society, there’s one thing that really hasn’t changed – mothers are feeling unfulfilled with ‘the problem that has no name’. We have less life satisfaction, but why?

This talk is a good reminder to create connections, that even as mothers and in our ‘busy’ lives, we need closeness, not just Facebook connections. The perfect excuse for a catch up with your friends Mama.

35 – Why You Need To Be A B*tch – Tabatha Coffey

As a woman, if you’re confident, strong and passionate you’re a bitch. These qualities in men are seen as successful and powerful, but as women, it makes us b*tches.

But the most alarming thing is that it is women saying this to other women. How crazy is that?

I love that Tabatha flips the negative connotation of the word ‘b*tch’ and turns it into brave, intelligent, tenacious, creative, honest.

Okay, I’m going to stop there now – that’s a whole lot of TED Talks. But, if you’ve made it this far I challenge you to continue to find TED Talks that inspire you and challenge your way of thinking.

If there are any TED Talks you love and that I have missed, let me know in the comments below!

There is no doubt that TED Talks can challenge the way we think and are shared by some incredible thought leaders in the world. These are some seriously powerful TED Talks by women, for women.