The very best TED Talks by women

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Stylist Team
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TED Talks have been thrilling us for more than twenty years – and here’s our pick of the best. 

TED Talks are a regular source of information, entertainment and inspiration. Conceived in the mid-Eighties by architect Richard Wurman, the conference started in earnest in 1990 and has since made a name for itself as host to writers, scientists, psychologists, activists business people and many others keen to share their inspirational – and often world-changing – ideas. 

From education to gender, scientific breakthroughs to body language, TED has covered it all. 

And women have led the charge when it comes to delivering such talks. Here are our picks of the most interesting and inspiring TED talks by women. 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the value of different voices

You probably know Adichie best from her brilliant novels – Americanah, Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus and many more.

And you may also have seen her amazing TED talk, in which she talks about the “danger of a single story”. 

The talk covers the discovery of her own voice – and she warns us to open our minds to other people, cultures or countries or else risk a “critical misunderstanding”. Unmissable.

Meera Vijayann on gender violence

Vijayann uses a personal story of experiencing sexual violence to kick off this talk – a tough thing to listen to, but key to how we deal with gender violence, she says.

Talking openly about tough topics is the “spark for change”, Vijayann says – and it’s hard to disagree. 

Brené Brown on the power of vulnerability

Being vulnerable is one of the hardest things a person can do – but letting yourself do it could be the best thing you ever do, Brené Brown argues.

Brown draws on her work as a professor studying human connection to urge us to empathise with others – better understanding those around us and ourselves. 

Mellody Hobson on ‘colour blindness’

Hobson’s work as a finance executive informs this talk on what she calls the “conversational third rail” – race.

She argues that ‘colour blindness’ is not the way forward – talking openly about race, as well as diversity in hiring practices, is key to a more progressive society. 

Mary Roach on orgasms 

We might think we know a bit about the humble orgasm – but Mary Roach is here to tell us about the bits we don’t know. 

Drawing on the work she did whilst writing her book, the aptly titled Bonk, Roach delves into obscure scientific research to teach us a little bit more about woman’s best friend. 

Tan Le on exciting new technology

One of TED’s strong points is its focus on science and tech – and this talk by bioinformatics entrepreneur Tan Le is the perfect example of this.

Her company, Emotiv, has created a device that can read a user’s brainwave – meaning one day you could be controlling objects with your thoughts. A must for anyone with an interest in STEM. 

Susan Cain on the power of introversion

We live in a world that emphasises the power of extraversion – of being loud, proud and outgoing.

Psychologist Susan Cain has a different idea. In this talk, she argues that introversion could be a secret superpower – and says that we should all appreciate introverts a little bit more. We couldn’t agre mor.

Image: Getty