List of American women's firsts

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Sally Ride was the first American woman to become an astronaut.

This is a list of American women's firsts, noting the first time that an American woman or women achieved a given historical feat. Inclusion on the list is reserved for achievements by American women that have significant historical impact.

Contents

17th century
18th century
19th century: 1820s1830s1840s1850s1860s1870s1880s1890s
20th century: 1900s1910s1920s1930s1940s1950s1960s1970s1980s1990s
21st century: 2000s2010s
See also
References

17th century[edit]

  • 1635
Anne Hutchinson was the first American woman to start a Protestant sect.[1]
  • 1640
Anne Bradstreet was the first poet in the British North American colonies to be published.[2]
  • 1647
Margaret Brent was the first American woman to demand the right to vote.[3]
  • 1649
Mary Hammon and Goodwife Norman were charged with "lewd behavior upon a bed"; they are the first American women to be convicted of lesbian activity.[4]

18th century[edit]

  • 1700s
Henrietta Johnston became the first female artist working in the colonies.[5]
  • 1750
Jane Colden was the first woman in America to win distinction as a botanist.[6]
  • 1756
Lydia Taft was the first woman to vote legally in Colonial America after her husband died and son left her; she was granted permission to vote through a Massachusetts town meeting.[7]
  • 1762
Ann Franklin was the first female newspaper editor in America.[8]
  • 1776
Margaret Corbin was the first woman to assume the role of soldier in the American Revolution and receive a pension for it.[9]
  • 1784
Hannah Adams was the first American woman to become a professional writer.[1]
Hannah Wilkinson Slater was the first American woman to be granted a patent.[10]

19th century[edit]

  • 1808
Jane Aitken was the first American woman to print the bible in English.[11]

1810s[edit]

  • 1812
Lucy Brewer was the first American woman to join the United States Marine Corps.[12]

1820s[edit]

  • 1828
Sarah Hale was the first American woman to be a major women's magazine editor.[13]

1830s[edit]

  • 1835
Harriot Kezia Hunt was one of the first woman to practice medicine, "clearly the first to achieve a marked success".[1][14]

1840s[edit]

  • 1846
Susan Bagley was the first woman in America to be a telegraph operator.[14]
Frances Whitcher was the first significant female comic protagonist in America, and the "first best-selling woman humorist".[15][16]
  • 1848
Astronomer Maria Mitchell was the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[17]
  • 1849
Elizabeth Blackwell, born in England, was the first woman to earn a medical degree in America.[18]

1850s[edit]

  • 1850
Harriet Tubman was the first American woman to run an underground railroad to help slaves escape. Some scholars label her the "Queen of the Underground Railroad".[19]
  • 1853
Antoinette Brown Blackwell was the first woman in America to be ordained as a minister;[20] she was ordained by the Congregational Church.
  • 1855
Anne McDowell was the first American woman to publish a newspaper completely run by women; it was circulated weekly and titled, "Women's Advocate".[21][22]
Emeline Roberts Jones was the first woman to practice dentistry in the United States.[23] She married the dentist Daniel Jones when she was a teenager, and became his assistant in 1855.[24]

1860s[edit]

  • 1865
Mary Surratt was the first woman hanged by the federal government; she was hanged for conspiring with John Wilkes Booth in the murder of President Abraham Lincoln.[25]
  • 1866
Mary Walker was the first woman in America to be a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.[26]
  • 1866
Lucy Hobbs Taylor was the first woman in America to graduate from dental school.[27]
  • 1869
Arabella Mansfield was the first female lawyer in America; she was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1869.[28]

1870s[edit]

  • 1870
Louisa Ann Swain was the first woman in the United States to vote in a general election, after the women of New Jersey lost the right to vote in 1807. She cast her ballot on September 6th, 1870, in Laramie, Wyoming.[29][30]
  • 1870
Esther Hobart Morris was the first woman in America to serve as Justice of the Peace.[31]
  • 1870
Ada Kepley was the first woman to graduate from law school in America.[32]
  • 1871
Frances Willard was the first American woman to be a college president. She also presided over the Women's Christian Temperance Union[33]
  • 1872
Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for United States President.[34]
  • 1873
Ellen Swallow Richards was the first woman admitted to MIT (which made her the first accepted to any school of science or technology), and the first American woman to earn a degree in Chemistry.[35]
  • 1876
Louise Blanchard Bethune was the first woman to work as a professional architect in America.[36]
  • 1877
Helen Magill White was the first woman in America to earn the Ph.D. degree.[14]
  • 1878
Emma Abbott was the first American woman to form her own opera company.[22]

1880s[edit]

  • 1880
Belva Lockwood became the first woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.[37]
Mary Myers was a balloonist who was the first woman to fly solo - done 4 July 1880 at Little Falls, New York.[38]
  • 1887
Susanna M. Salter was elected mayor of Argonia, Kansas becoming the first woman mayor in the country.[39][40]
Phoebe Couzins was the first American woman to serve as a United States Marshal.[41]

1890s[edit]

  • 1891
Marie Owens, born in Canada, was hired as America's first female police officer, joining the Chicago Police Department.[42]
  • 1892
Wilhelmina Weber Furlong was the first American woman Modernist studio painter from the early American Modernism scene in Manhattan, New York [43]
  • 1893
Florence Kelley was the first woman to hold statewide office when Governor Peter Altgeld appointed her Chief Factory Inspector for the state of Illinois.[44]
  • 1896
May Irwin was the first actress in America to kiss on screen, which she did in the film The Kiss.[45]
  • 1899
Eleonora de Cisneros was the first American trained opera singer the Metropolitan Opera company hired.[46]

20th century[edit]

  • 1900
Margaret Abbott was the first American woman to win first place in an Olympic event. Specifically, she was the first American woman, and the second woman overall, to win first place at the Olympics in golf.[47]
Carro Clark was the first American woman to establish, own and manage a book publishing firm.[48] The C. M. Clark Company opened in Boston in 1900.
  • 1905
May Sutton was the first American woman to win Wimbledon.[49]
  • 1907
Dorothy Tyler was the first known woman in America to be a jockey.[50]
  • 1908
The first Mother's Day was observed; Anna Jarvis is noted as the driving force for recognition of this holiday.[51]
The first U.S. Navy nurses, known as the Sacred Twenty, were appointed; they were all women, and were the first women to formally serve in the U.S. Navy.[52]
Poet Julia Ward Howe was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.[53]

1910s[edit]

  • 1910
Alice Stebbins Wells was the first American-born woman to be sworn in as a police officer, which occurred in Los Angeles.[54]
Florence Lawrence was America's first movie star.[55]
  • 1911
Harriet Quimby was the first woman to be licensed as an airplane pilot in America.[56]
  • 1912
Girl Guides of America (now Girl Scouts of the USA) was established as the first voluntary organization for girls.[1]
  • 1914
Caresse Crosby was the first woman to patent a brassiere.[57]
  • 1916
The first birth control clinic was opened by Margaret Sanger.[58][59]
Jeannette Rankin was the first woman in America to be elected to Congress.[60]
  • 1917
Loretta Perfectus Walsh was the first woman to enlist in the United States Navy.[61]
  • 1918
Annette Adams was the first female assistant United States attorney general, "...the highest judicial position any woman in the world had ever held".[62]
Opha May Johnson was the first woman to enlist in the United States Marines.[63]
Twin sisters Genevieve and Lucille Baker of the Naval Coastal Defense Reserve were the first uniformed women to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard.[64]
Sara Teasdale was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for her work Love Songs.) [65]

1920s[edit]

  • 1920
Marie Luhring was the first woman in America to become an automotive engineer.[66]
  • 1921
Edith Wharton was the first woman in America to win the Pulitzer Prize.[67]
Margaret Gorman was the first "Miss America".[68][69]
Alice Mary Robertson was the first woman to preside over the House of Representatives; however, she was opposed to women's suffrage.[62]
Zona Gale was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (for Miss Lulu Bett.) [70]
  • 1922
Rebecca Felton was sworn in as the first female Senator in the United States.[60]
  • 1923
Florence King became the first woman to win a case before the U.S. Supreme Court (Crown v. Nye).[71]
  • 1924
Juliana R. Force was the first woman to present folk art in an official public showing exhibition in America.
  • 1925
Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first woman in America to be elected governor, and the only one since that has served in Wyoming.[68]
An All-Woman Supreme Court in Texas, the first woman-majority state Supreme Court in U.S. history, sits for a five-month special sitting on a single case, disbanding shortly afterward.
  • 1926
Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim across the English Channel.[72]
  • 1928
Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic ocean.[73]
Genevieve R. Cline was the first woman appointed as a United States federal judge.[74]

1930s[edit]

  • 1930
Ellen Church was the first female flight attendant in America. She suggested the idea of female nurses on board to Boeing Air Transport, claiming that if people felt safer they would fly more.[75]
  • 1931
Jane Addams was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Peace; she shared the prize with Nicholas Murray Butler.[76][77]
  • 1932
Hattie Caraway was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate.[78]
  • 1933
Frances Perkins was the first woman to serve as a cabinet member, under Franklin Roosevelt, and as such the first woman to serve as Secretary of Labor.[79][80][81][82]
  • 1934
Gertrude Atherton was the first woman to be president of the (American) National Academy of Literature.[83]
Lettie Pate Whitehead was the first woman to serve as a director of a major corporation (The Coca-Cola Company).
  • 1937
Grace Hudowalski was the ninth person and first woman to climb all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks.[84][85][86]
  • 1938
Pearl S. Buck was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.[87]

1940s[edit]

  • 1940s
Lois Fegan Farrell was the first female reporter to cover a professional hockey team in America.[88]
  • 1942
Anna Leah Fox was the first woman to receive the Purple Heart, which she received for being wounded in the attack on Pearl Harbor.[89]
  • 1943
Nellie Neilson was the first woman to be president of the American Historical Association.[90]
Edith Ellen Greenwood was the first woman to receive the Soldier's Medal.
  • 1944
Cordelia E Cook was the first woman to receive both the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.[91]
Ann Baumgartner was the first woman to fly a jet aircraft, the Bell YP-59A on October 14, 1944.[92]
  • 1946
Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first American canonized by the Roman Catholic church as a saint.[93]
  • 1947
Gerty Cori was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; she shared the prize with Carl Ferdinand Cori and Bernardo Alberto Houssay.[94][95] Although born in Prague, Gerty Cori is considered the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in medicine.[96] She had become a U.S. citizen in 1928.[97]
  • 1948
Esther McGowin Blake was the first woman in the U.S. Air Force. She enlisted in the first minute of the first hour of the first day regular Air Force duty was authorized for women on July 8th, 1948.[98]
  • 1949
Georgia Neese Clark was the first woman Treasurer of the United States, under President Harry Truman.[99]
Eugenie Anderson was the first woman to be a United States Ambassador, under President Harry Truman.[100]
Shirley Dinsdale was the first recipient of the Emmy Award.[101]
Sara Christian was the first woman to compete in a major-league stock car race, competing in NASCAR's inaugural Strictly Stock (now Sprint Cup Series) event.[102]

1950s[edit]

  • 1950
16 December: Anna Der-Vartanian became the U.S. Navy's first female master chief petty officer; this made her the first female master chief in the Navy, as well as the first female E-9 in the entire U.S. Armed Services. She received a personal letter from then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower congratulating her on her accomplishment.[103]
  • 1951
Paula Ackerman was the first woman in America to perform rabbinical functions.[104]
Arie Taylor became the first black person to be a U.S. Women’s Air Force classroom instructor.[105]
Helen E. Myers of Lancaster, Pa., a 1941 graduate of Temple University, was commissioned as the U.S. Army Dental Corps’ first woman dental officer.[106]
  • 1953
Fae Adams was the first female to receive regular commission as a doctor in the United States Army.[107]
Oveta Culp Hobby was the first woman to serve as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.[108]
Toni Stone, also known by her married name Marcenia Lyle Alberga, was the first of three women to play Negro league baseball, and thus the first woman to play as a regular on an American big-league professional baseball team.[109][110]
Ruby Bradley, upon leaving Korea, was given a full-dress honor guard ceremony, the first woman ever to receive a national or international guard salute.[111]
  • 1955
Betty Robbins, born in Greece, was the first female cantor (hazzan) in the 5,000-year-old history of Judaism.[112] She was appointed cantor of the reform [113] Temple Avodah in Oceanside, New York in 1955,[114] when she was 31 and the Temple was without a cantor for the High Holidays.[115][116]
Clotilde Dent Bowen became the U.S. Army’s first black female physician to attain the rank of colonel.[105]
  • 1956
Tenley Albright was the first woman in America to win the Olympic gold medal in figure skating.[117]
  • 1957
Decoy: Police Woman was the first television show to feature a female police officer, and in fact the first to be built around a female protagonist.[118]
  • 1959
Arlene Pieper became the first woman to officially finish a marathon in the United States when she finished the Pikes Peak Marathon in Manitou Springs, Colorado, in 1959.[119][120]

1960s[edit]

Wilma L. Vaught became the first woman to deploy with a Strategic Air Command operational unit.[121]
  • 1960
Master Gunnery Sergeant Geraldine M. Moran became the first female Marine to be promoted to E-9.[122]
  • 1961
The first female U.S. Marine was promoted to Sergeant Major (Bertha Peters Billeb).[122][123]
  • 1962
Pearl Faurie became the first SPAR in the U.S. Coast Guard advanced to E-9.[124]
Judy Garland became the first woman to win Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards, winning for "Judy at Carnegie Hall"
  • 1963
Maria Goeppert Mayer was the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physics; she shared the prize with Eugene Paul Wigner and J. Hans D. Jensen.[125][126] She was born in Poland, but became a U.S. citizen in 1933.[126][127]
  • 1964
Jerrie Mock was the first woman to fly solo around the world, which she did in a Cessna 180.[128][129] The trip ended April 17th, 1964, in Columbus, Ohio,[130] and took 29 days, 21 stopovers and almost 22,860 miles.[131]
Carol Doda was the first woman in America to perform as a topless entertainer.
Isabel Benham was the first female partner in R.W. Pressprich & Co.’s 55-year history, which also made her the first female partner at any Wall Street bond house.[132][133]
  • 1964
Alice K. Kurashige became the first Japanese-American woman to be commissioned in the United States Marine Corps.[134][135][136]
  • 1965
Rachel Henderlite was the first woman ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the United States; she was ordained by the Hanover Presbytery in Virginia.[137][138]
  • 1966
Roberta Louise "Bobbi" Gibb was the first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon.[139]
  • 1967
Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered entry.[140]
Muriel Siebert was the first female member of the New York Stock Exchange.[141]
  • 1969
Carol Doda was the first woman in America to perform as a bottomless entertainer.[142]

1970s[edit]

  • 1970
Diane Crump was the first woman in America to ride in the Kentucky Derby, she placed fifteenth.[143]
Patricia Palinkas was the first woman to play professionally in an American football game.[144]
  • 1972
Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington were the first women in the United States promoted to brigadier general.[145]
Sally Priesand was ordained on June 3rd, 1972, by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's president Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk at Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati,[146] making her the first woman to be ordained as a rabbi in the United States and only the second woman ever to be formally ordained in the history of Judaism.[147]
Katharine Graham was the first female Fortune 500 CEO, as CEO of the Washington Post company.[37][148]
Tonie Nathan was the first woman in America to receive an electoral vote in a presidential election.[149]
  • 1973
Shirley Muldowney was the first woman to receive a NHRA license to drive Top Fuel dragsters, the highest level of the drag racing sport.[150]
  • 1974
Jeannette Piccard was the first female balloon pilot licensed in the United States; she was also the first woman to ascend to the stratosphere.[151]
Ella T. Grasso was the first woman to be elected a U.S. governor who was not the wife or widow of a governor; she was elected governor of Connecticut.[152]
  • 1975
Barbara Ostfeld-Horowitz was the first female cantor to be ordained in Reform Judaism in 1975.[153]
Carla Hills was the first woman to serve as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.[154][155]
  • 1976
Shirley Black, aka Shirley Temple, was the first woman to be chief of protocol, which she was for President Gerald Ford.[156]
Lucy Giovinco was the first female in America to win the AMF Bowling World Cup.[157]
Women first began to attend the U.S. service academies.[123]
Shirley Muldowney was the first woman to win a NHRA national event.[150]
Emily Howell Warner was the first woman to become an American airline captain.[158][159]
  • 1977
Janet Guthrie was the first woman to compete in the Daytona 500 and the first woman to lead a NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Monster Energy Cup Series) .[160]
Janet Guthrie was the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500,[160] event.[161]
Shirley Muldowney was the first woman to win a NHRA championship, in the Top Fuel category.[150]
Barbara McClintock was the first woman to win an unshared Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and since she was American, she was the first American woman to do so.[162]
Juanita M. Kreps was the first woman to serve as Secretary of Commerce.[163]
  • 1978
Marcia Frederick, at the age of fifteen, was the first woman in America to win World gold in gymnastics.[164]
Mary E. Clarke was the first woman to achieve the rank of major general in the United States Army.[165]
  • 1979
Susan B. Anthony was the first woman in America to be depicted on a coin.[166]
Patricia R. Harris was the first woman to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services.[167]
Shirley Hufstedler was the first woman to serve as Secretary of Education.[167]

1980s[edit]

  • 1981
Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman to be a member on the United States Supreme Court.[168]
  • 1983
Elizabeth Dole was the first woman to serve as Secretary of Transportation.[167]
Sally Ride was the first American woman in space.[169]
Vanessa L. Williams was the first African-American winner of the Miss America pageant (Miss America 1984).[170]
Linda Foust was the first woman to drive in the U.S. Presidential motorcade as an Army non-commissioned officer.[171]
  • 1984
Velma Barfield became the first woman in the United States to be executed after the 1976 resumption of capital punishment[172] and the first since 1962.[149] and the first woman to be executed by lethal injection.
Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman in America to run for vice president on a major-party platform.[173]
Joan Benoit won the first women's Olympic marathon.[174]
Kathryn D. Sullivan was the first American woman to conduct a spacewalk.[175]
  • 1985
Penny Harrington was appointed as Chief of Police, making her the first woman to lead a major-city police department.[176]
Libby Riddles was the first woman to win the Iditarod.[177]
  • 1986
Ann Bancroft was the first woman to reach the North Pole by foot and dogsled, "...she became the first known woman to cross the ice to the North Pole."[178]
Nancy Lieberman joined the United States Basketball League (USBL), thus becoming the first woman to play in a men’s professional basketball league.[179]
  • 1987
Aretha Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[180]
  • 1988
Dr. Lenora Fulani was the first female (and first African-American) presidential candidate to secure ballot access in all 50 states;[181] she also secured the most votes ever gained by a female candidate in a presidential election until 2012.[182]
Shawna Robinson was the first woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned stock car race, winning in the Charlotte/Daytona Dash Series at New Asheville Speedway.[183]

1990s[edit]

  • 1990
Jennifer York was the first woman to form a Christian rock band and the first such band that was all-female, Rachel Rachel.[184]
  • 1991
Geraldine Morrow was the first female president of the American Dental Association.[185]
Minnesota's Supreme Court becomes the first woman-majority state supreme court to be appointed and sit for a regular session.
  • 1992
Manon Rhéaume was the first woman to play in a National Hockey League game; although she was Canadian, "She played goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning..."[186]
Mona Van Duyn was the first woman named US poet laureate.[187]
  • 1993
Halli Reid was the first woman to swim across Lake Erie, swimming from Long Point, Ontario, to North East, Pennsylvania, in 17 hours.[188][189][190]
Janet Reno was the first woman to serve as Attorney General of the United States under President Bill Clinton.[191]
Hazel R. O'Leary was the first woman to serve as Secretary of Energy.[167]
  • 1994
Judith Rodin was the first permanent female president of an Ivy League University (specifically, the University of Pennsylvania.) [192]
  • 1995
Eileen Collins was the female pilot for the Space Shuttle (on STS-63). (see 1999—first female Shuttle commander)
Roberta Cooper Ramo was the first female President of the American Bar Association.[193]
  • 1997
Madeleine Albright, born in Prague, was the first woman to serve as Secretary of State; she served under President Bill Clinton.[194]
Liz Heaston was the first woman to play and score in a college football game, kicking two extra points in the 1997 Linfield vs. Willamette football game.[195]
Nancy Dickey was the first female president of the American Medical Association.[196]
Hazel J. Harper was the first female president of the National Dental Association.[197][198]
  • 1998
Julie Taymor was the first woman to win a Tony award for best director of a musical.[199][200]
  • 1999
Eileen Collins was the first female commander of a Space Shuttle mission (on STS-93). (see 1995—first female Shuttle pilot)
Carly Fiorina was the first woman to lead a fortune 50 company (Hewlett-Packard)[201]

21st century[edit]

2000s[edit]

  • 2000
Spring - Kathleen A. McGrath became the first woman to command a U.S. Navy warship at sea.[123][202]
1 June - Deborah Walsh became the first woman in the U.S. Coast Guard promoted to Chief Warrant officer in Aviation Engineering (AVI).[124]
1 July - Regina Mills became the U.S. Navy's first female Aviation Deck LDO.[203]
July - Lucille "Pam" Thompson became the first African-American woman to serve as a U.S. Coast Guard Special Agent. She served in this capacity until July 2004
Fall - General Janet E. A. Hicks was promoted to Brigadier General, becoming the first female one-star to be a mother. Gen. Jan Hicks was promoted to Major General in 2002, also becoming the first two-star mother and the first female Commanding General of Ft. Gordon in Augusta, Georgia.
  • 2001
Margaret C. Wilmoth, United States Army Reserve, was promoted to Brigadier General, becoming the first nurse and first woman to command a medical brigade as a general officer.[204]
Gale Norton was the first woman to serve as Secretary of the Interior.[167]
Ann Veneman was the first woman to serve as Secretary of Agriculture.[167]
Stephanie Ready was the first female coach of a men's professional league team in 2001, as an assistant coach for the now defunct Greenville Groove of the National Basketball Development League (the minor league of the National Basketball Association).[205][206]
  • 2002
Melanie Wood was the first American woman and the second woman overall to be named a Putnam Fellow.[207]
  • 2005
Danica Patrick was the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500.[208]
  • 2006
Effa Manley was the first woman to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.[209]
  • 2007
Nancy Pelosi was the first female Speaker of the United States House of Representatives; she is currently the highest ranking woman politician in American history.[210]
  • 2008
Hillary Clinton was the first woman to win a major American party's presidential primary for the purposes of delegate selection when she won the primary in New Hampshire on January 8.[211][212] (Shirley Chisholm's prior "win" in New Jersey in 1972 was in a no-delegate-awarding, presidential preference ballot that the major candidates were not listed in and that the only other candidate who was listed had already withdrawn from; the actual delegate selection vote went to George McGovern.[213][214])
Danica Patrick was the first woman to win an IndyCar Series by winning the 2008 Indy Japan 300.[215]
Sarah Palin was the first female vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party.[216]
Ann E. Dunwoody was the first female four-star general in the U.S. Army.[217]
The New Hampshire Senate became the first state legislative body to hold a majority of female members (13 out of 24).
  • 2009
Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, for The Hurt Locker (2008).[218]
Elinor Ostrom was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, and since she was American, the first American woman to do so; she shared the prize with Oliver E. Williamson.[219]
Janet Napolitano was the first woman to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security.[167]
Nancy Lieberman became the coach of the Texas Legends in the NBA Development League, an affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks, thus making her the first woman to coach a professional men's basketball team.[220]
Kathleen O'Loughlin was the first female executive director of the American Dental Association.[221]
Jeanne Shaheen became the first woman to hold the offices of U.S. Senator and state Governor, being elected as governor of New Hampshire from 1997 to 2003 and U.S. senator for New Hampshire since 2009.

2010s[edit]

  • 2010
Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director,[218][222] the BAFTA Award for Best Direction,[223] and the Critics' Choice Award for Best Director, all for The Hurt Locker (2008).[224]
Jennifer Gorovitz was the first woman to lead a large Jewish federation in America (specifically, the Jewish Community Federation, based in San Francisco).[225]
  • 2011
Angella Reid was the first female White House Chief Usher.[226]
  • 2012
Elizabeth MacDonough was the first female appointed as Parliamentarian of the United States Senate.[227]
Janet Wolfenbarger was the first female four-star general in the U.S. Air Force.[228]
Shannon Eastin was the first woman to officiate a National Football League game in a pre-season matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the San Diego Chargers.[229]
New Hampshire elects the first all-woman congressional delegation in U.S. history, with U.S. senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and U.S. representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster.
  • 2013
Danica Patrick was the first woman to win a pole in the 2013 Daytona 500.[230]
Danica Patrick was the first woman to lead the Daytona 500.[231]
Rosie Napravnik rode the filly Unlimited Budget to a 6th place finish in the 2013 Belmont, becoming the first woman to ride all three Triple Crown races in the same year.[232]
Davie Jane Gilmour was the first woman to lead the Board of Directors for Little League.[233]
Ashley Freiberg was the first woman to claim an overall GT3 Cup Challenge victory in North America, winning the Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge.[234]
UFC 157, which took place in February, featured not only the first women’s fight in UFC history but also the first UFC event to be headlined by two female fighters (Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche).[235]
Rabbi Deborah Waxman was elected as the President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. As the President, she is believed to have been the first woman and first lesbian to lead a Jewish congregational union, and the first female rabbi and first lesbian to lead a Jewish seminary; RRC is both a congregational union and a seminary.[236][237][238]
Julia Morgan was the first woman to receive the American Institute of Architects' Gold Medal, which she received posthumously.[239]
On March 1st, 2013, Privateers owner and president Nicole Kirnan served as the team’s coach for the first time, making her the first woman to coach a professional hockey team in the United States.[240][241]
Erika Schmidt was the first female director of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.[242]
Mia Hamm was the first woman to be inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame in Pachuca, Mexico.[243]
General Motors named Mary Barra as its first female CEO and the first female CEO of a major automaker.[244]
Deborah Rutter was named as the first female president of the Kennedy Center.[245]
Jodi Eller was the first woman to complete the 1,515 mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.[246]
The American Council of the Blind (ACB) voted unanimously to elect Kim Charlson as its president, making her the first female president of a major national blindness consumer advocacy organization in the United States.[247]
Lauren Silberman was the first woman to try out at an NFL Regional Scouting Combine, and thus the first woman to try out for the NFL (she tried out as a kicker), but she did not succeed.[248]
  • 2014
Janet Yellen was confirmed by the Senate as the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve.[249]
The first women competed in ski jumping at the Olympics, including three American women - Lindsey Van, Jessica Jerome and Sarah Hendrickson.[250]
Lauryn Williams was the first American woman to win a medal in both the Summer and Winter Olympic games.[251][252]
Jennifer Welter was the first woman non-kicker or placekick-holder to play in a men’s pro football game; she played running back for the Texas Revolution.[253]
Michelle J. Howard began her assignment as the U.S. Navy's first female and first female African-American four-star admiral on July 1, 2014.[254][255]
Michele A. Roberts was elected as the new Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, thus making her the first woman to be elected to the highest position of a major sport’s players association within the United States.[256]
During the two-week 2014 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Natalie Nakase was an assistant coach for the Clippers, becoming the first woman to sit on the bench as an NBA assistant.[a][259][260][261]
Becky Hammon became the first full-time female coach in the NBA - and the first full-time female coach in any of the four major professional sports in America - as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.[262]
Anne B. France won the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.[263]
Katie Higgins was the first female pilot to join the Blue Angels, the United States Navy's flight demonstration squadron.[264]
Dr. Connie McCaa became the first American woman and the first Mississippi doctor inducted into the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Hall of Fame.[265]
Suzy Whaley became the first female officer in the PGA, as PGA secretary.[266]
Susan Morrison was named as the first female executive pastry chef at the White House.[267]
Megan Smith was named as the first female Chief Technology Officer of the United States.[268][269]
Megan Brennan was named as the first female United States Postmaster General.[270]
  • 2015
Jennifer Welter became the first American woman hired to coach in men's pro football when the Texas Revolution of the Champions Indoor Football league announced that Welter was hired to coach linebackers and special teams.[271]
The U.S. Senate confirmed Michelle K. Lee as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).[272] Lee is the first woman and the first person of color to lead the USPTO.[272]
  • 2016
Taylor Swift became the first woman to win Album of the Year twice.[273]
Hillary Rodham Clinton was formally nominated at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 26, 2016, becoming the first woman to be nominated for president by a major U.S. political party.
Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first woman to win the popular vote in a United States presidential election.[274]
Carla Hayden became the first female Librarian of Congress.[275]
Kellyanne Conway became the first woman to run a successful presidential campaign.[276]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lisa Boyer was an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001–02, but she neither sat on the bench nor traveled for away games, and she was paid by the Cleveland Rockers of the WNBA and not by the Cavaliers. Becky Hammon was hired by the San Antonio Spurs for the 2014–15 season, becoming the first woman to either be paid or work full-time as an NBA assistant.[257][258]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Kane, Joseph Nathan (1997). Famous first facts : a record of first happenings, discoveries, and inventions in American history (6th ed.). New York: H.W. Wilson. ISBN 0-8242-0930-3. 
  • Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody (2006). Ladies First: 40 Daring American Women who Were Second to None (1st. ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Books. ISBN 9780792253938. 
  • Plowden, Martha Ward (1933). Famous Firsts of Black Women. Pelican Publishing. ISBN 9781455604098. 
  • Stern, Madeleine B. (1994). We the women : career firsts of nineteenth-century America (1. print. ed.). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803292239.