Special Report

The Coolest Women's Firsts in History

Source: library_of_congress / Flickr

Frances Perkins
> First woman to: Become presidential cabinet member
> Year: 1933

Perkins was a teacher and very active in the movement for women’s right to vote and for better working conditions. Largely because of her efforts, a law was passed limiting the work week to 54 hours for women and children. She was President Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of labor and a key figure behind his signature New Deal.

Source: 136879256@N02 / Flickr

Margaret Bourke-White
> First woman to: Fly with U.S. crew in enemy territory during WWII
> Year: 1943

Photographer Bourke-White was the first woman ever accredited to fly a mission over enemy territory. She was nicknamed “The Indestructible” because of her response to why she was never scared: “The sound and movement were so rhythmic. It was like music — and so reassuring.”

Source: SWKrullImaging / Getty Images

Arlene Pieper
> First woman to: Finish a marathon
> Year: 1959

Pieper couldn’t run the Boston Marathon because women were not allowed, so she chose Colorado’s Pikes Peak Marathon instead. She finished a 13.3-mile trail run going up more than 7,000 feet, and also the marathon, running up and down the mountain in about nine hours.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Joanne Woodward
> First woman to: Earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
> Year: 1960

The first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame had a woman’s name, that of Joanne Woodward. She won an Oscar for her role in “The Three Faces of Eve” in 1957, playing a woman who suffers from multiple personality disorder.

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

Valentina Tereshkova
> First woman to: Fly in space
> Year: 1963

Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova was an expert in parachuting, which is what spurred her interest in space. During her flight in space, which lasted just over 70 hours, she went around the Earth 48 times.

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