Special Report

Women Who Broke Barriers Every Year Since 1950

Source: Winter Park Public Library / Wikimedia Commons

1980: Paula Hawkins
> Category: Politics

Florida Republican Paula Hawkins became the first woman elected to a full Senate term who had not been preceded by her father or husband. She is still the only female senator from Florida.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

1981: Sandra Day O’Connor
> Category: Law

Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman nominated to the Supreme Court and would become the first woman to serve on the nation’s top court.

Source: Win McNamee / Getty Images

1982: Madonna
> Category: Entertainment

A woman who helped define 1980s style and attitude, Madonna challenged conventions of what female entertainers should be and became one of the biggest stars of the decade.

Source: Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images

1983: Sally Ride
> Category: Science

Sally Ride became the first American woman in space when she rode the space shuttle Challenger. She is also the first known gay astronaut.

Source: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

1984: Barbra Streisand
> Category: Entertainment

Barbra Streisand, who has been honored with Oscar and Grammy awards, was the first — and so far only — woman to win a Golden Globe for direction.

1985: Penny Harrington
> Category: Law enforcement

Law-enforcement trailblazer Penny Harrington became the first female chief of police of a major city. She was chief of police in Portland, Oregon.

Source: Paras Griffin / Getty Images

1986: Oprah Winfrey
> Category: Entertainment/Activism

Host of one of the most popular TV talk shows ever, and the first African-American woman to become a self-made billionaire, Oprah Winfrey became the first woman to own and produce a television talk show.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

1987: Aretha Franklin
> Category: Entertainment

The “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin became the first woman artist inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Source: Robert Laberge / Getty Images

1988: Shawna Robinson
> Category: Sports

Shawna Robinson, from Des Moines, Iowa, became the first woman to win a NASCAR race, at New Asheville Speedway, in North Carolina.

Source: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

1989: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
> Category: Politics

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida was the first Hispanic woman elected to the U.S. Congress. She represented Florida’s 27th Congressional District.