Female Firsts: 30 Historic ‘Firsts’ for Women


21Louise Thaden

Louise Thaden

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.

22Sirimavo Bandaranaike

Sirimavo Bandaranaike

20 years before the first woman was democratically elected in 1980 as president of a country (namely Iceland), stateswoman Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) was elected as prime minister, when she led her party to victory at the 1960 general election.

23Esther Pohl Lovejoy

Esther Pohl Lovejoy

Esther Pohl Lovejoy was the first woman health officer in a major U.S. city. She prevented an outbreak of bubonic plague in 1907-1908, and brought public health priorities to Portland by working for pure food and milk, improved garbage collection, and inspection of school children for communicable diseases.

24Wanda Rutkiewicz

Wanda Rutkiewicz

A Polish national named Wanda Rutkiewicz was the first woman to climb K2, the second-highest peak in the world in 1986. She was also the first European woman to climb Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world.

25Constance Markievicz

Constance Markievicz

Constance Markievicz was sentenced to "death by being shot" after Ireland's 1916 Easter Rebellion, but was spared "solely and only on account of her sex." Her sentence was reduced to life, but she was released after a year. She became Minister of Labour and the first woman elected to Parliament.

26Annie Fox

Annie Fox

Annie Fox was the first woman to be awarded the Purple Heart for combat following her service as the head nurse at Hickam Field's Station Hospital during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

27Jennifer Ringley

Jennifer Ringley

The first woman to stream her life on the internet was a 19-year-old teenager named Jennifer Ringley who turned on a webcam that sat on top of the computer in her college dorm room in 1996. She broadcasted her life 24/7. At its peak, she got 7 million hits per day, a significant proportion of the internet at the time.

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28Cristeta Comerford

Cristeta Comerford

Cristeta Comerford has been the Executive Chef of the White House since 2005. She is the first woman and first person of Asian descent to hold the post.

29Margaret Thompson

Margaret Thompson

Margaret Thompson was the first woman to win an Olympic medal in a shooting sport (silver) in 1976 after tying with the gold medal winner. When the Olympic committee refused a shoot-off, the gold medalist pulled Thompson onto the gold medal platform with him.

30Fay Fuller

Fay Fuller

The first woman to summit Mount Rainier in Washington was a schoolteacher/journalist named Fay Fuller, who reached the top on August 10, 1890. She later had a peak in the park named in her honor.


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