Bridget Jones surrounded by her two beaux
The 2001 film follows the heart-warming story of a single woman who opens up in her diary as she tackles relationship woes, family pressures, and career struggles. Second place went to Erin Brockovich, played by Julia Roberts in the autobiographical tale of an American legal clerk who fights for justice.
And sweeping in – on her broomstick – at number three was Hermione Granger, played by Emma Watson.
Commissioned by Sky Cinema, the research saw Mary Poppins, Matilda and Mulan feature in the top 10 inspiring today’s women.
Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Miss Honey from film adaption of Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Merida from Disney’s, Brave were other top choices.
The study also saw Cher from Clueless, Princess Leia from Star Wars and even Miss Piggy from the Muppets feature in the top 30 list.
Anna Smith, a film critic, broadcaster and podcast host, said: “The fact that Bridget and Erin are topping the list shows that women relate to complex, layered characters who overcome the obstacles of life with humour and compassion.
“Even those in the fantasy genre are fully rounded characters, not fantastical stereotypes.
“And I’m thrilled to see that so many women are rooting for more powerful female leads and that Sky Cinema is celebrating it too.”
The study also revealed nearly two-fifths of those polled identify with the women portrayed in films because they see aspects of themselves in the characters or they remind them of a close friend or relative.
As many as four-fifths will even enjoy films more if they have a female lead than a male lead, because they find them relatable, funny and inspiring.
And 56 percent feel empowered by watching an inspiring leading lady on film, with more than a fifth of movies watched by women featuring a strong female character.
More than a quarter said it makes the film feel more diverse, with 22 percent more likely to watch a film with a woman taking charge.
The research, conducted via OnePoll, also found intelligence is the most aspirational quality women look for in a female protagonist, followed by independence and confidence.
In fact, a fifth of women have been inspired to speak their mind more often because of the female role models in movies, with 18 per cent less likely to care what people think.
As a result, seven in 10 women agree more films should feature powerful female leads, with 39 percent saying it would have boosted their confidence growing up if they’d seen more of these in films.
But nearly half of those polled think more movies are being made with powerful females front and centre compared to 10 years’ ago.
And seven in 10 believe it’s a “good thing” for there to be more films featuring leading ladies.
It also emerged nearly a quarter reckon that the next 007 should be a woman, with more than a third finding bravery an aspirational quality in female leads.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Sky Cinema is launching a specially curated collection celebrating women in front of and behind the camera.
Titled Women in Film this collection also features 20 iconic films featuring fearless female leads, personally selected by Anna Smith, which will be on the service from March 2-8.
Sarah Wright, the director of Sky Cinema and Acquisitions, Sky UK & Ireland said: “I cannot wait to celebrate International Women’s Day on Sky Cinema with our millions of customers.
“I am enormously proud of our Women in Film collection curated with contribution from critic Anna Smith, and delighted to be able to premiere our very timely, brand new documentary, This Changes Everything, which focuses on the next generation and highlights the importance of strong female role models both on and off screen.”
Top 20 fictional female movie characters UK women find inspiring:
1. Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones’s Diary)
2. Erin Brockovich (Erin Brockovich)
3. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter film series)
4. Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins)
5. Matilda (Matilda)
6. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
7. Miss Honey (Matilda)
8. Mulan (Mulan)
9. Merida (Brave)
10. Princess Leia (Star Wars)
11. Professor Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter series)
12. Sarah Connor (Terminator series)
13. Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind)
14. Jasmine (Aladdin)
15. Black Widow (Avengers: Endgame)
16. Alice (Alice Through the Looking Glass)
17. Rose DeWitt Bukater (Titanic)
18. Captain Marvel (Captain Marvel)
19. Princess Tiana (Princess & the Frog)
20. Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)