35 Historic & Inspirational ‘Firsts’ For Women

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1Maggie L. Walker

Maggie L. Walker

The first woman to establish a bank in the USA was an African-American named Maggie L. Walker in 1903. The St. Luke Penny Savings Bank was one of the few to survive the Great Depression and, after a merger, still exists today.

2. Annie Kopchovsky was the first woman to cycle around the world. She had only learned how to ride a bike two days prior to setting off. She ended up accomplishing the trip in 15 months and won $10,000 for the feat.

3. A nurse named Sally Tompkins was the first woman to be commissioned as an officer in any form of the United States army. She was commissioned as a captain in 1861. Under her supervision, she had the lowest death rate of any hospital, Union or Confederate.

4. In 1920, a young American woman named Bessie Coleman found a financial sponsor through a newspaper, traveled to France, and learned how to become a stunt pilot. She returned to the US as the first woman in the country to hold a pilot’s license. She was of African and Native American descent.

5. Joyce Brothers became famous in the 1950s for becoming the first woman to win the game show The $64,000 Question, despite the fact that the show's producers did not want her to win and deliberately gave her questions perceived to be beyond her ability, which she answered correctly anyway.

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6Mary Babnik Brown

Mary Babnik Brown

In 1944, Mary Babnik Brown became the first woman to have her hair used in crosshairs for military aircraft bombsights. The hair had to fit strict criteria such as being blonde, over 22 inches long, and never been treated with chemicals or hot irons.

7. The first woman to serve in the US Senate was Rebecca Latimer Felton in 1922. She was 87 and served for only one day. She championed prison reform, women's rights, and education. She was the last member of Congress to have owned slaves, was a white supremacist and openly supported lynching.

8. Setara Hussainzada became the first woman to ever sing in a TV program in Afghanistan after the fall of Taliban in 2004. For this, she received numerous death threats and has been forced to live in exile.

9. Opha May Johnson was the first woman known to have enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. She joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 1918, officially becoming the first female Marine.

10. In 1969, Charlotte Reid became the first woman to wear pants to Congress. Women were forbidden to wear pants onto the floor until 1993.

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11Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall, who played Laverne on Laverne & Shirly, directed Big movie and was the first woman to gross over $100 million at the box office.

12. Bayard Wootten was a pioneering documentary photographer from North Carolina. She was the first woman to take an aerial photograph and she was the one who named and created the logo for Pepsi Cola.

13. Toni Stone was the first woman to ever play professional baseball as a regular on a big-league teams with men in Negro leagues. She played second base and maintained a .243 batting average.

14. Alice Huyler Ramsey was the first woman to drive coast-to-coast across the USA in 1909. The 22-year-old housewife and mother completed the 3,800-mile journey from New York to San Francisco in a green Maxwell 30. The 59-day drive took 3-weeks longer than planned and 96% of the route was unpaved.

15. The first woman elected president of a country was Vigdís Finnbogadóttir of Iceland, who won the 1980 presidential election as well as three others to also become the longest-serving non-hereditary female head of state in history (almost exactly 16 years in office).

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16Tori Murden McClure

Tori Murden McClure

In 1999, Tori Murden McClure became the first woman and American to row a boat alone across the Atlantic Ocean. She was also the first woman and first American to ski to the geographic South Pole.

17. After becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, Amelia Earhart started her own fashion line. Unconventional materials such as parachute silk and textile from airplane wings were used in some designs, and she gave a nod to her love of aviation with buttons shaped like propellers.

18. In 1966, Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to have run the entire Boston Marathon. At the time when women were banned from entering because of their gender, she entered the marathon wearing her brother’s Bermuda shorts and a hooded sweatshirt and finished the race unofficially.

19. Harriet Quimby was the first woman to fly across the English Channel on April 16th, 1912, but barely received any media attention because of the Titanic disaster, which occurred the day before and consumed the interest of the public.

20. Sister Mary Kenneth Keller was the first woman ever to get a Ph.D. in computer science. She also helped invent BASIC (computer language).

21Manon Rhèaume

Manon Rhèaume

Manon Rhèaume was the first and only woman to this day to ever play in the NHL.

22. Anandibai Joshi was the first female doctor from India. She was also the first woman in India to complete her studies in western medicine from the United States.

23. Cynisca was the first woman champion of the original Greek Olympic games. Women were not allowed to compete in or even attend the Olympics, but the Spartan princess owned and trained the horses that twice won the chariot-racing event.

24. Hattie Wyatt Caraway was not only the first woman to serve a full term in the United States Senate but also the first to be re-elected. She was the first female legislator to cosponsor the Equal Rights Amendment, and her grave is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

25. Louise Thaden was an American female aviation pioneer, a friend, and rival of Amelia Earhart. She is the holder of numerous records. She was the first woman to win the Bendrix trophy, and beat Amelia Earhart and 18 other top female pilots at the first Women’s Air Derby, a transcontinental race in 1929.

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