Female Firsts: 30 Historic ‘Firsts’ for Women

11Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

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).

12Tori 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.

13Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

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.

14Bobbi Gibb

Bobbi Gibb

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.

15Harriet Quimby

Harriet Quimby

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.

16Mary Kenneth Keller

Mary Kenneth Keller

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

17Manon Rhèaume

Manon Rhèaume

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

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18Anandibai Joshi

Anandibai Joshi

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.



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.

20Hattie Wyatt Caraway

Hattie Wyatt Caraway

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.

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