List of first women in the world that have significant historical impact. Our Fist wormen list includes Awards, Computing, Dentistry, Education, International bodies, Journalism, Library science, Mathematics, Military, Nobel Prizes, Politics, Sports and more. Inclusion on the list is reserved for achievements by women in history.
Complete List of First Women in the World
- 1930: Frances Marion, first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (for The Big House).
- 1940: Hattie McDaniel, first African American to win an Oscar for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (for Gone with the Wind).
- 1940: Anne Bauchens, first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Film Editing (for North West Mounted Police).
- 1946: Muriel Box, first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay (for The Seventh Veil); she shared this award with her husband Sydney.
- 1973: Julia Phillips, first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Picture (for The Sting); she shared this award with Michael Phillips and Tony Bill.
- 1987: Suzanne Benson, first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (for Aliens); she shared this award with Robert Skotak, Stan Winston, John Richardson.
- 1996: Rachel Portman, first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Original Score (for Emma).
- 2001: Halle Berry, first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actress (for Monster’s Ball).
- 2010: Kathryn Bigelow, first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director (for The Hurt Locker).
- 2013: Brenda Chapman, first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature; she shared this award with Mark Andrews.
- 1949: Shirley Dinsdale, first recipient of the Emmy Award.
- 1985: Karen Arthur, first woman to win an Emmy Award for directing (Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for Cagney & Lacey.)
- 2015: Uzo Aduba, the first actress to win both a drama and comedy Emmy Award for the same role.
- 2015: Viola Davis, first African-American to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Film (aside from the Academy Awards)
- 1946: Bodil Ipsen, first woman to win the Palme d’Or (for The Red Meadows.)
- 1984: Barbra Streisand, first woman to win Golden Globe Award for Best Director for Yentl.
- 2009: Kathryn Bigelow, first woman to win the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing (for The Hurt Locker).
- 2010: Kathryn Bigelow, first woman to win best director at the BAFTA awards (for The Hurt Locker).
- 2010: Kathryn Bigelow, first woman to win Critics’ Choice Award for Best Director (for The Hurt Locker).
- 2015: Agnès Varda, first woman to receive an honorary Palme d’or.
- 2014: Ava DuVernay is the first African-American female director to receive a Golden Globe nomination and have a film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
- 1958: Ella Fitzgerald, first woman to win multiple Grammy awards.
- 1961: Judy Garland, first woman to win Album of the Year.
- 1964: Astrud Gilberto, first woman to win Record of the Year.
- 1971: Carole King, first woman to win Song of the Year and first to win multiple General Field Grammys.
- 1996: Ashley Cleveland, first woman to win a Grammy award for best rock gospel album.
- 2010: Taylor Swift, first woman to win Album of the Year twice
- 2018 Taleedah Tamer, first Saudi woman to be featured in an international fashion campaign and walk a couture runway
- 1910 Coco Chanel, first woman to design suits and pants for woman, and making it popular for a woman to have a sporty and slightly masculine style.
Literature (aside from the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes)
- 1944: Elsa Triolet, first woman to win France’s Prix Goncourt.
- 1970: Bernice Rubens, first woman to win the Man Booker Prize (for The Elected Member.)
- 1992: Mona Van Duyn, first female poet laureate of the United States.
- 2015: Julie Schumacher, first woman to win the Thurber Prize for American Humor.
- 2015: Zurinah Hassan, first female Malaysian National Laureate.
- 1918: Sara Teasdale, first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for her work Love Songs.)
- 1921: Zona Gale, first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (for Miss Lulu Bett.)
- 1921: Edith Wharton, first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (for the novel The Age of Innocence.)
Television (aside from the Emmy Awards)
- 1949: Arlene Francis, first woman to host a television game show (Blind Date.)
- 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.
- 1975: Sharon Raiford Bush, née Sharon Crews, became American television’s first African-American female weather anchor of primetime news at WGPR-TV, the nation’s first black-owned-and-operated television station.
Theater (aside from the Tony Awards)
- 1956: Alice Childress, first woman to win an Obie Award, which she won for best off-Broadway play for her play Trouble in Mind.
- 2011: Cricket Myers, first woman to win a Drama Desk Award for outstanding sound design.
- 1998: Julie Taymor, first woman to win a Tony Award for best director of a musical.
- 2004: Phylicia Rashad, first African-American woman to win a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play.
- 2013: Cyndi Lauper, first woman to win a Tony Award for Best Original Score solo.
- 2014: Audra McDonald, won a Tony Award, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play this year, making her the first woman to ever earn six Tony Award wins (not counting honorary awards) and the first woman to win a Tony Award in all four acting categories.
- 2015: Tony Award for Best Original Score was won by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, making them the first female writing team to win that award.
- Llanchie Stevenson, first African-American woman to dance for the Radio City Music Hall ballet company and the National Ballet of Washington, D.C.
- 1982: Debra Austin, first African-American woman to become a principal at a major American ballet company.
- 1990: Lauren Anderson, first African-American woman to become a principal at Houston Ballet
- 2016: Stephanie Kurlow, first Hijabi ballerina
- 1922–1937: Aloha Wanderwell, first woman to drive around the world.
- 1949: Jenny Lou Carson, the first woman to write a No. 1 country music hit.
- 1960: Joanne Woodward, earns the first Hollywood Walk of Fame star.
- 1972: Loretta Lynn becomes the first woman named Entertainer of the Year from the Country Music Association
- 1984: Lydia Canaan, listed in the catalog of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Library and Archives as the first rock star of the Middle East.
- 1987: Aretha Franklin, first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- 1990: Rachel Rachel, first all-female Christian rock band in American and world Contemporary Christian music history.
- 1996: Cheryl Dunye, first feature-length narrative film written and directed by out black lesbian about black lesbians (The Watermelon Woman).
- 2011: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, first woman to solely direct an animated feature from a major Hollywood studio (Kung Fu Panda 2).
- 2014: Judith Weir, first female Master of the Queen’s Music.
- 2017: Patty Jenkins, first woman to direct a studio superhero comic book live-action theatrical release film (Wonder Woman).
- 2019: Nina Martinez, She is the world’s first living HIV-Positive kidney donor.
Aviation and Aerospace
|Élisabeth Thible||First known woman to ride in a hot air balloon.||June 4, 1784|
|Sophie Blanchard||First woman to pilot a hot air balloon.||1805|
|Raymonde de Laroche||First woman to receive a pilot’s license.||8-Mar-10|
|Lilian Bland||First woman in the world to design, build, and fly an aircraft.||1910–1911|
|Harriet Quimby||First woman to fly across the English Channel.||1912|
|Eugenie Mikhailovna Shakhovskaya||First woman commissioned as a military pilot; she flew reconnaissance missions for the Czar in 1914.||1914|
|Marie Marvingt||First woman to fly a fighter plane in combat.||1915|
|Amy Johnson||First woman to fly from Britain to Australia.||1930|
|Amelia Earhart||First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.||1932|
|Lotfia ElNadi||First African woman and first Arab woman to earn a pilot’s license.||1933|
|Jacqueline Cochran||First woman to break the sound barrier.||########|
|Jackie Moggridge||First woman to become a British airline captain.||1957|
|Valentina Tereshkova||First woman in space.||16-Jun-63|
|Betty Miller||First female pilot to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean.||1963|
|Jerrie Mock||First woman to fly solo around the world.||1964|
|Rosella Bjornson||First female pilot for a commercial airline in North America||1973|
|Emily Howell Warner||First woman to become an American airline captain.||1976|
|Judy Cameron||First female pilot hired to fly for a major Canadian carrier (Air Canada).||1978|
|Svetlana Savitskaya||First woman to space walk.||1984|
|Eileen Collins||First woman space shuttle pilot.||Feb-95|
|Irene Koki Mutungi, from Kenya||First African woman to qualify to captain a commercial aircraft; she qualified to command the Boeing 737.||2004|
|Hanadi Zakaria al-Hindi||First Saudi woman to become a commercial airline pilot.||2005|
|Anousheh Ansari||First female space tourist.||########|
|Patricia Mawuli Nyekodzi||Ghana’s first female civilian pilot, and the first woman in West Africa certified to build and maintain Rotax engines.||2009|
|Nicola Scaife, from Australia||Winner of the first women’s hot air balloon world championship, which was held in Poland.||2014|
|Dalia||Iraq’s first female commercial airline pilot.||2015|
|Ouma Laouali||Niger’s first female pilot.||2015|
- 1866: Lucy Hobbs Taylor, first American woman to earn a doctorate in dentistry.
|Juliana Morell||First woman to earn a doctorate degree.||1608|
|Elena Cornaro Piscopia||First woman to earn a Philosophy doctorate degree.||1678|
|Laura Bassi||First woman to officially teach at a European university.||1732|
|Stefania Wolicka-Arnd||First woman to receive a PhD in the modern era.||1875|
- 1950: Geronima Pécson – first Filipino and first woman elected to the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
- 1981: Jeane Kirkpatrick – First woman to serve as US Ambassador to the United Nations.
- 1946: Katharine Graham, first female publisher of a major United States newspaper, The Washington Post.
- 2004: Catherine Pepinster – first woman to be editor of British newspaper The Tablet in its 175-year history.
- 1903: Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics; she shared the prize with Antoine Henri Becquerel and Pierre Curie. First woman to win a Nobel Prize.
- 1905: Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner, first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Peace.
- 1909: Selma Lagerlöf, first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
- 1911: Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. First person (and only woman to date) to win two Nobel Prizes. Only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences.
- 1947: Gerty Cori, first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; she shared the prize with Carl Ferdinand Cori and Bernardo Alberto Houssay. Although born in Prague, Gerty Cori is considered the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in medicine. She had become a U.S. citizen in 1928.
- 1983: Barbara McClintock, first woman to win an unshared Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
- 2009: Elinor Ostrom, first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, and the first American woman to do so; she shared the prize with Oliver E. Williamson.
Historic firsts for women as heads of state or government:
- Yevgenia Bosch, Ukrainian People’s Republic (1917–1918), sometimes considered the first modern woman leader of a national government. She held the position of Minister of Interior and Acting Leader of the People’s Secretariat of Ukraine, one of a number of competing ruling bodies in the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the predecessor of Soviet Ukraine.
- Khertek Anchimaa-Toka, Tuvan People’s Republic (1940–1944): The first female head of state (Chairperson of the Presidium of the Little Khural) of a partially recognized country.
- Sukhbaataryn Yanjmaa, Mongolia (1953–1954): The first female acting head of state (Chairperson of the Presidium of the State Great Khural).
- Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Ceylon, now Sri Lanka (1960–1965): The first elected female prime minister (head of government) of a sovereign country. She served again 1970–77 and 1994–2000; in total she served for 17 years.
- Indira Gandhi, India (1966–1977): The first female prime minister of a present-day G20 country. She served again 1980–1984.
- Soong Ching-ling, China (1968–1972): The first female acting co-head of state (Co-Chairperson). She later served as Honorary President for 12 days in 1981.
- Golda Meir, Israel (1969–1974): The first female prime minister in the Middle East.
- Isabel Perón, Argentina (1974–1976): The first (appointed) female president, head of state and head of government.
- Elisabeth Domitien, Central African Republic (1975–1976): The first (appointed) female prime minister of an African country.
- Margaret Thatcher, United Kingdom (1979–1990): The first female prime minister of a G7/P5 country and the first female Prime Minister of a sovereign European country.
- Eugenia Charles, Dominican Republic (1980–1995): The longest continuously serving female prime minister.
- Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, Iceland (1980–1996): The first democratically directly elected female president. With a presidency of exactly sixteen years, she also remains the longest-serving elected female head of state of any country to date.
- Jeanne Sauvé, Canada (1984–1990): The first female head of state in North America.
- Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan (1988–1990): The first female prime minister of any muslim majority country. She served again 1993–96.
- Kim Campbell, Canada (1993): The first female head of government in North America.
- Tansu Çiller, Turkey (1993–1996): The first elected muslim female prime minister in Europe.
- Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sri Lanka (1994–2000): The first time that a nation possessed a female president (Chandrika Kumaratunga) and a female prime minister (Sirimavo Bandaranaike) simultaneously. This also marked the first time that a female prime minister (Sirimavo Bandaranaike) directly succeeded another female prime minister (Chandrika Kumaratunga).
- Ruth Perry, Liberia (1996–1997): The first (appointed) female head of state in Africa. Carmen Pereira of Guinea-Bissau and Sylvie Kinigi of Burundi had previously acted as head of state for 2 days and 101 days respectively.
- Mary McAleese, Ireland (1997–2011): The first time that a female president directly succeeded another female president, Mary Robinson.
- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia (2006–2018): Africa’s first elected female head of state.
- Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Iceland (2009–2013): As prime minister, she was the world’s first openly lesbian world leader, first female world leader to wed a same-sex partner while in office.
- Elizabeth II, United Kingdom (1952–present): In 2015, she became the longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state in world history. In 2016, she became the longest currently serving head of state and longest currently reigning monarch.
- The first woman to be President of the European Commission was Ursula von der Leyen in 2019.
- 1949: Sara Christian became the first woman to race in NASCAR.
- 1976: Janet Guthrie became the first woman to qualify and compete in the Indianapolis 500
- 1977: Janet Guthrie became the first woman to qualify and compete in the Daytona 500
- 1989: Shawna Robinson became the first woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned stock car race, winning in the Charlotte/Daytona Dash Series at New Asheville Speedway.
- 2005: Danica Patrick became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500
- 2008: Danica Patrick became the first woman to win a Indy Car Series race.
- 2013: Danica Patrick became the first woman to race a complete full-time NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series schedule.
- 2013: Danica Patrick became the first woman to win a pole position for NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series in the 2013 Daytona 500.
- 2013: Danica Patrick became the first woman to lead the Daytona 500.
- 1935: Regina Jonas became the first woman to be ordained as a rabbi.
- Kathryn Kuhlman (1907–1976): largest Christian following in American history.
- 1980: Marjorie Matthews, first woman to become a bishop of the United Methodist Church.
- 1989: Barbara Harris, first woman ordained a bishop in the Anglican Communion.
- March 12, 1994: The first women were ordained as Church of England priests; 32 women were ordained together.
- 2006: Katharine Jefferts Schori, first woman presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States.
- 2008: Kay Goldsworthy, first woman consecrated bishop in Australia; she was made a bishop of the Anglican Church of Australia.
- 2014: Libby Lane, first woman consecrated bishop in the Church of England.
- August 6, 1926: Gertrude Ederle, first woman to swim across the English Channel.
- 1937: Grace Hudowalski was the ninth person and first woman to climb all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks.
- 1940s: Lois Fegan Farrell became the first female reporter to cover a professional hockey team in America.
- 1960: Mary McGee becomes the first official female motorcycle racer in the United States by earning a license from the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme. She is also the first woman to compete in the Baja 500 off-road race.
- 1960– Wilma Rudolph, track and field champion, became the first American woman to win three gold medals in the Rome Olympics.She elevated women’s track to a major presence in the United States. As a member of the black community, she is also regarded as a civil rights and women’s rights pioneer. Along with other 1960 Olympic athletes such as Cassius Clay (who later became Muhammad Ali), Rudolph became an international star due to the first international television coverage of the Olympics that year.
- November 27, 1968: Penny Ann Early, first woman to play major professional basketball, in an ABA game (Kentucky Colonels vs. Los Angeles Stars).
- August 15, 1970: Patricia Palinkas, first woman to play professionally in an American football game.
- January 1, 1972 – Women were officially welcomed into the United States Polo Association with Sue Sally Hale becoming the first woman member.
- May 16, 1975: Junko Tabei, first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
- 1993: Halli Reid became the first woman to swim across Lake Erie, swimming from Long Point, Ontario, to North East, Pennsylvania, in 17 hours.
- October 18, 1997: Liz Heaston, first female to play and score in a college football game, kicking two extra points in the 1997 Linfield vs. Willamette football game.
- December 26, 2008: Sarah Thomas, first woman to officiate an NCAA football bowl game.
- 2009: Kei Taniguchi becomes the first woman to win the Piolet d’Or (Golden Ice Axe), the “Oscar” of Mountaineering.
- September 4, 2009: Carolynn Sells becomes the first woman to win a solo motorcycle race on the Snaefell Mountain Course in the Isle of Man when she won the Ultra Lightweight race at the 2009 Manx Grand Prix. Carolynn won the race in a time of 1hr 25mins 24.51seconds (106.022 mph) in wet and windy conditions, beating her nearest opponent by 1 minute and 2 seconds.
- May 4, 2012: Rosie Napravnik became the first woman jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks, riding Believe You Can.
- August 9, 2012: Shannon Eastin becomes 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.
- 2012: Anna Wardley, from England, became the first person to complete a solo swim around Portsea Island recognized by the British Long Distance Swimming Association.
- May 31, 2013: Lydia Nsekera became the first female FIFA Executive Committee member.
- May 18, 2013: Rosie Napravnik places third in the Preakness Stakes on Mylute, making her the first woman to have ridden in all three Triple Crown races. On June 8, 2013 she 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.
- June 2013: Ashley Freiberg became the first woman to claim an overall GT3 Cup Challenge victory in North America, winning the Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge.
- September 23, 2013: Sarah Outen arrived in a small harbor on the Aleutian island of Adak, and thus became the first person to row solo from Japan to Alaska, as well as the first woman to complete a mid-Pacific row from West to East.
- 2013: Davie Jane Gilmour became the first woman to lead the Board of Directors for Little League.
- 2013: 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).
- 2013: On her fifth attempt and at age 64, Diana Nyad became the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to Florida without the protection of a shark cage, swimming from Havana to Key West.
- 2013: Scotland’s solicitor general, Lesley Thomson, became the first woman to be appointed to Scottish Rugby’s board.
- 2013: Anna Wardley, from England, became the first woman to swim non-stop around the Isle of Wight.
- 2013: Peggy O’Neal, an American-born lawyer, became the first woman in the Australian Football League to hold the position of club president, being chosen as the president of the Richmond Football Club.
- 2013: Tracey Gaudry became the first woman appointed as vice president of the Union Cycliste Internationale.
- 2013: Maria Toor, a squash player from South Waziristan, became the winner of the first ever women’s event in the Nash Cup in Canada by beating Milou van der Heijden of the Netherlands 13–11, 11–3, 11–9.
- 2013: Tatyana McFadden became the first athlete to win six gold medals at a championships during the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon. She claimed gold in every event from the 100 meters through to the 5,000 meters.
- 2013: Tatyana McFadden won the Boston, Chicago, London, and New York marathons in 2013. This makes her the first person – able-bodied or otherwise – to win the four major marathons in the same year. She also set a new course record for the Chicago Marathon (1 hour, 42 minutes, 35 seconds).
- 2013: Denise Fejtek became the first woman to complete the “Peak to Heat Double” – the combination of summiting Mount Everest and finishing the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. She reached the Everest Summit on May 23, 2010 and finished the Hawaii Ironman in October 2013.
- 2013: Sonya Baumstein became the first person to stand-up paddleboard across the Bering Strait.
- 2013: Meredith Novack became the fastest person, and first woman, to pull a double crossing of the Auau Channel in Hawaii. Her time was 11 hours and one minute.
- 2013: Rosie Napravnik won 17 races to become the first woman to capture the leading rider title at Keeneland.
- 2013: Olivia Prokopova became the first woman to win the World Crazy Golf Championship.
- 2013: Mia Hamm became the first woman inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame in Pachuca, Mexico.
- 2013: Emily Bell became the first woman to kayak the length of Britain.
- 2013: Casey Stoney became the first female member of the Professional Footballers’ Association’s management committee.
- 2013: Jodi Eller became the first woman to complete the 1,515 mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.
- 2013: On March 1, 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.
- 2014: Torah Bright became the first woman to qualify for three snowboard disciplines at a Winter Olympics, specifically snowboard cross, halfpipe and slopestyle.
- 2014: Ashley Freiberg became the first woman to win an overall race in Continental Tire Challenge History when she won the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. Her co-driver was Shelby Blackstock.
- 2014: The first women competed in ski jumping at the Olympics.
- 2014: Jennifer Welter became 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.
- 2014: Abbey Holmes became the first woman to kick 100 goals in one regular season of Australian Rules football.
- 2014: Annabel Anderson, from New Zealand, became the first woman to cross Cook Strait standing on a paddleboard.
- 2014: Peta Searle became the first woman appointed as a development coach in the Australian Football League when she was chosen by St Kilda as a development coach.
- 2014: 16-year-old Katie Ormerod, from Britain, became the first female snowboarder to land a backside double cork 1080.
- 2014: Shelby Osborne became the first female defensive back in American football when she was drafted by Campbellsville University in Kentucky.
- 2014: Amélie Mauresmo became the first woman to coach a top male tennis player (specifically, Andy Murray).
- 2014: Corinne Diacre became the first woman to coach a men’s professional soccer team (Clermont Foot) in a competitive match in France on August 4, 2014, her 40th birthday.
- 2014: Cecilia Brækhus, from Norway, became the first Norwegian and the first woman to hold all major world championship titles in her weight division (welterweight) in boxing.
- 2014: On August 15, 2014, Mo’ne Davis was the first girl in Little League World Series history to pitch a winning game for the Taney Dragons and earned the win, and she was also the first girl to pitch a shutout in Little League postseason history.
- 2014: Amy Hughes, from England, ran 53 marathons in 53 days, thus setting the record for the most marathons run on consecutive days by any person, male or female.
- 2015: Jennifer Welter became the first 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.
- 2019: GS Lakshmi, former Indian cricketer becomes the first female ICC match referee