Female Firsts Throughout History


Iain Chang

March is Women’s History Month, an entire month dedicated to celebrating and honoring some of the most important women and the groundbreaking achievements they have had in this world.  For decades women have fought valiantly for the freedoms and respect they have earned today.  The three people below are among many who are the first of their kind to achieve something no other woman has before.  Although these women played a crucial role in the making of history, it’s the impact it had afterward allowing many others to feel free to pursue whatever career they desired in the future allowing them to accomplish even greater things.

Mae C. Jemison

Mae Jemison on the space shuttle for the Endeavour Mission

On June 4th, 1987, Mae C. Jemison became the first female African American to journey through space.  This Stanford University graduate went on to obtain her M.D in 1981, where she worked as a practitioner in Southern California Medical Center.  In 1986, she applied to the NASA space training program where she was selected as one of 15 candidates for training.  After over a year of training, she earned the title of first female astronaut.  On September 12, 1992 she was selected for the Endeavour Mission with 6 other astronauts, becoming the first woman in space.  Spending about 190 hours in space, she conducted many experiments involving weightlessness.





Kathryn Bigelow

Kathryn Bigelow taking home her Oscar for Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow made a groundbreaking achievement at the 82nd Academy Awards, becoming the first female filmmaker to win best director for her film The Hurt Locker.  Bigelow graduated from the San Francisco Art institute in 1972 and later went on to earn a master’s degree in film from Columbia University.  Her feature film debut The Loveless which she co-wrote and co-directed about a motorcycle gang starring William Dafoe.  Throughout her career, she has made many other films such as Blue Steel and Point Break.  Her big break however came from her 2009 film The Hurt Locker starring Jeremy Renner about a U.S soldier fighting in Iraq.  This film was highly praised by critics and audiences alike and led to the academy voting in her favor for the Oscars allowing her to win over James Cameron for Avatar and Lee Daniel for Precious. 


Elizabeth Blackwell

Portrait of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive an MD

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to earn a medical degree way back in 1849.  She was born in Bristol England on February 3rd, 1821.  Inspired to pursue a career in medicine after the passing of a friend, she applied wherever possible to start her educational journey.  All schools rejected her except Geneva College in rural New York.  It took a long while before she could earn the respect of her fellow classmates and professors, eventually graduating first of her class in 1849.  In 1857 she opened up a small hospital in New York to help treat the poor people, as it was hard for her to get a job after earning her degree due to many unwilling to hire a female doctor.  Things began to look up for Blackwell, however, as she opened her own medical college in 1851 located in New York City.  She eventually left her sister in charge of this facility when she permanently moved back to London, where she eventually became a professor of gynecology at the London School of Medicine for women.