Special Report

Women Who Broke Barriers Every Year Since 1950

Regardless of the field of endeavor — science, sports, business, politics — women have smashed long-held traditions, customs, and shibboleths to take their rightful place in the world. 

As we prepare to mark women’s history month, 24/7 Tempo has taken this opportunity to acknowledge the progress in women’s rights and celebrate women who broke barriers the year you were born. We compiled our list from a trove of sources, including websites focusing on history, women’s rights, sports, and economics such as britannica.com, womenshistory.org, biography.com, nationalgeographic.com, and espn.com.  

In the post-war era, many opportunities have opened up for women as the economy expanded, colleges swelled with female students, and perceptions about a women’s role in society were challenged. Even so, women still had to fight, and still have to fight, for their rights. It’s a story that’s older than you think — these are the women’s protests that changed history.

 For many women on the list, an accomplishment in a given year might be one of several instances in which they distinguished themselves. For example, Hillary Clinton has made a career out of female “firsts.” When she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2001, Clinton became the first first lady to win a public office post. In 2016, she was the first woman to receive a presidential nomination from a major political party. 

The challenges other women confronted go beyond their gender. Many have also faced racial and religious biases. Besides the fact that they are women of color, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have endured bias because of their faith. Still, they became the first Muslim women elected to Congress in 2018. Omar and Tlaib were part of a historically large class of women running for office in 2018, a step toward gender parity in the United States. These are the countries where women are still not equal to men.

Click here to see women who broke barriers every year since 1950.
Click here to see our methodology.