It’s hard to be the first to do something – especially when all who have come before you in your field have been men. Did you know that Little Passports was the first female-founded children’s subscription company? It’s also the first children’s subscription company to have not one, but TWO female co-founders, Amy Norman and Stella Ma.
On International Women’s Day, we wanted to take a moment to recognize and lift up the incredible contributions of these women who did it first. From computer programming to politics, these women broke barriers and took risks to be the first in their field.
1. Bessie Coleman
Bessie Coleman was the first woman of African-American and Native American descent to hold a pilot’s license. She had heard about female pilots in France during WWI and was determined to be one. She earned her international pilot’s license in 1921 and was also a stunt pilot.
2. Mae C. Jemison
Mae Carol Jemison is an American engineer, physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992. To share her knowledge, she’s also written several books for kids about space and our solar system.
3. Caroline Herschel
Caroline Herschel was a German astronomer who discovered several comets. She was the first woman to be awarded a Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1828), and to be named an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society (1835).
4. Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi was the first and, to date, the only woman to be elected Prime Minister of India. She served two terms from 1966 until 1984, making her the second-longest serving Indian Prime Minister after her father, Jawaharial Nehru.
5. Elizabeth Blackwell
Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, and was a pioneer in promoting the education of women in medicine both in the United States and the United Kingdom. She also published books for women in medicine.
6. Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace was a British mathematician and writer, and the first computer programmer. She realized the full potential of the “computing machine” and published an algorithm meant to be carried out by machine before anyone else did.
7. Hattie Wyatt Caraway
Hattie Caraway was the first woman elected to serve a full term as a United States Senator representing Arkansas. She became the first woman to co-sponsor the Equal Rights Amendment in 1943.
8. Valentina Tereshkova
Russian citizen Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to go to space, and was selected from more than 400 applicants and five finalists. She was originally selected because she was an expert skydiver, and she became an official astronaut for the mission. She is still the only woman to have ever been on a solo space mission.
9. Margaret Brent
British immigrant Margaret Brent was the first woman to demand the right to vote, and the first woman to own land in America. She appeared before a court in Maryland asking to vote as a landowner. She was known as the unofficial “founding mother” of Maryland alongside its founding fathers, being the first female landowner in Maryland.
10. Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton was the first woman in America to win a Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1921 for her novel The Age of Innocence. She was also nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928, and 1930.
Is there someone we missed on this list that you love hearing about? Let us know in the comments!