Christiane Amanpour has urged young people to view reality TV stars such as the Kardashians as “entertainment and not aspirational”.
Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, joined a host of other influential speakers including space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and costume designer Sandy Powell at The Female Lead Project launch event, held at the Science Museum in London.
Responding to a question from a young person in the audience, she explained: “You are never going to get rid of the Kardashian phenomenon. In some way or fashion, there is always going to be something like this.”
She advised young people to “look at it as entertainment and not aspirational, because you can be sure that those people are not living happy lives”.
The Female Lead project has launched a book featuring 60 accomplished and successful women talking about their achievements in an effort to inspire young women.
Those featured include teachers, actors, politicians, scientists and activists.
The creator of Take Your Daughter to Work Day, Nell Merlino, suggested young people look to figures in the media such as Meryl Streep.
“People who are well-known who step out of their role to talk about things that matter to them, I think they are important people to watch,” she said.
“They have a platform and they are using it to help us all understand how to move through this next terrible period of politics in the United States.”
Founder of The Female Lead, entrepreneur Edwina Dunn, said role models should inspire girls to be ambitious.
Dunn said: “We should make women comfortable with the word ambition.”
“It doesn’t mean hurting other people, it doesn’t mean treading on bodies as you get to the top.”
Space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who is featured in the book, said: “I want to get out there and travel to another galaxy. I still have these ambitions.
“They are crazy ambitions and I don’t think I’m ever going to make it, but by having those ambitions I have achieved far more than I would ever have thought possible.”
A copy of The Female Lead book will be sent to 18,000 schools as part of the project, along with teaching materials to encourage conversation about setting goals and give the children a wider range of adults to look up to.
Dunn added: “We would love to know about 50,000 amazing women – not just the brave, bold 60 that kicked this off.”
The organisation hopes the book will encourage women from all over the globe to share who their personal role models are with a campaign using the hashtag #ShesMyInspiration.