top of page

Poll Most Admired People 2018 – Where are the Scientists & Educators?

Respected polling organisation YouGov recently undertook a study to find out the most admired public people in 2018. This resulted in Top 20 lists for females and males. Over 37,000 individuals were interviewed in 35 countries; the full methodology (and complete lists) may be obtained by referring to the full report per our references (below).

While entertainers dominate the female list, the male list features politicians, sporting personalities and entrepreneurs. Following are the Top 10 (Property of YouGov, 2018).


1. Angelina Jolie

2. Michelle Obama

3. Oprah Winfrey

4. Queen Elizabeth II

5. Hillary Clinton

6. Emma Watson

7. Malala Yousafzai

8. Angela Merkel

9. Taylor Swift

10. Madonna


1. Bill Gates

2. Barack Obama

3. Jackie Chan

4. Xi Jinping

5. Jack Ma

6. Vladimir Putin

7. Dalai Lama

8. Narendra Modi

9. Amitabh Bachchan

10. Cristiano Ronaldo

Noticeably absent from these lists are a suite of occupations and individuals that contribute daily to our well-being (Elon Musk [link wiki] being an exception. Arguably, Bill Gates is regarded in relation to philanthropy nowadays). Specifically, those that study, reflect upon, teach, and communicate to the public our ever-improving understanding of the natural world. These are the engineers, medical professionals, public intellectuals, innovators, scientists, science communicators … people that deserve our attention—and admiration—for making a tangible contribution to our collective progress as a species. How about a Nobel Prize winner? (Despite its critiques.)

Clearly, entertainers, sportspeople, titans of industry and so forth will be at the forefront of people's’ minds. But, most admired? It would be a great thing to see high-profile scientists (broadly speaking) and intellectuals represented - demonstrating our collective values. That’s not to say they would be the “best” or “greatest contributor” in their respective fields; we are discussing mass-media generated public awareness (and perception) after all.

Should this occur, perhaps we would see a greater importance placed on scientific literacy in the political sphere as well. This can only aid in better decision-making and public policy.

Just some “nominees” from STEM – and further afield:

  • Tim Berners-Lee

  • Elizabeth Kolbert

  • Michio Kaku

  • Jane Goodall

  • Neil Degrasse Tyson

  • Jimmy Wales

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali

  • Bill McKibben

  • Noam Chomsky

  • Edward Snowden

  • Richard Dawkins

  • Stephen Hawking (in Memoriam)

Clearly, this list barely scratches the surface. Further, yours truly is clearly ignorant of special individuals outside the English-speaking domain. Please, let us know who and why should be at the forefront of the public’s minds in the comments below.



YouGov (2018). “Angelina Jolie and Bill Gates are the world’s most admired people in 2018”. Accessed: 22.05.18. Location:


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page