Female Firsts
Courtesy photos

Check out these notable accomplishments made by women throughout history.

Women in their 30s

1786: Caroline Herschel, age 36, became the first woman recognized for a scientific position. She was also the first woman to discover a comet.

1795: Anne Parrish, age 35, established The House of Industry, the first charitable organization for women in America.

1809: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, age 34, established the first American community of the Sisters of Charity in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

1916: Margaret Sanger, at 37, opened the first birth control clinic in America. She also is the founder of Planned Parenthood.

1918: Sara Teasdale, age 34, was the first female to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

1937: Amelia Earhart at 39 was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She disappeared days before her 40th birthday.

1947: Barbara Washburn was the first woman to climb Mt. McKinley at the age of 32.

1967: Muriel Siebert, at 35, was the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.

1975: Junko Tabei was the first woman to climb Mt. Everest at the age of 35.

1986: Oprah Winfrey was the first African American woman TV host at age 32 (The Oprah Winfrey Show).

1989: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, at age 37, became the first Hispanic woman elected to congress.

1992: Mae C. Jemison was the first African American woman to travel into outer space. She was 36.

1992: At age 36, Manon Rheaume was the first female to play professional hockey as goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

2003: Sofia Coppola at the age of 32 became the first American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director.

2012: Juliana Buhring, 32, becomes the first woman to cycle around the world in 152 days, raising money for charity.

Women’s Suffrage

1638: Margaret Brent, 38, became the first female landowner in Maryland. She is also one of the first known women’s suffragists in American history.

1870: Victoria Woodhull, 31, was the first female candidate for President and at 32, she was the first woman to address Congressional committee, urging women’s suffrage.

1878: Anna Shaw, a suffragist orator, became the first ordained Methodist female minister at age 31.

1898: Emmeline Pankhurst, 40, founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

1917: Jeannette Rankin, 36, a suffrage organizer, was elected as the first U.S. Congresswoman.

1917: Alice Paul, 32, staged the first political protest to picket the White House with the National Women’s Party (NWP), formed by Paul and her colleagues.


1872: Victoria Claflin Woodhull - First female presidential candidate (1872) Equal Rights Party.

1917: Jeannette Rankin - First woman in Congress (1917) Served in the House of Representatives 1917-1919 and 1941-1943.

1970: Elizabeth Hoisington - First female brigadier general of the U.S. Army (1970).

1981: Sandra Day O’Connor - First female Supreme Court Justice (1981) nominated by Reagan, received unanimous Senate approval.

1997: Madeleine K. Albright - First female Secretary of State (1997) Appointed by Clinton Dec. 5, 1996. Unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

2008: Hillary Clinton - First woman to win a Presidential Primary Contest (NH Democratic Primary, 2008).

Women and history

1903: National Women’s Trade Union League founded in Boston

1916: Margaret Sanger opens birth control clinic in Brooklyn.

1920: 19th Amendment (woman suffrage) is ratified.

1950: First Betty Crocker ad airs on television.

1951: I Love Lucy television series begins.

1955: Rosa Parks' arrest sparks Montgomery boycott.

1960: Birth control pill introduced.

1961: Women strike for peace founded.

1963: Equal Pay Act makes wage disparities based solely on gender illegal.

1964: Mississippi Freedom delegate Fannie Lou Hamer speaks at Democratic National Convention.

1966: National Organization for Women founded.

1973: Supreme Court declares in Roe v. Wade that women’s right to abortion is constitutionally protected.

1981: Sandra Day O’Connor becomes first woman appointed to Supreme Court.

(Source: “Through Women’s Eyes, An American History.)

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