15 notable firsts for women in history

Women's history is much more than chronicling a string of "firsts."

Female pioneers have long fought for equal rights and demanded to be treated equally as they chartered new territory in fields of science, art, politics, entrepreneurship and beyond.

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But the pioneers who achieved those "first" titles through the years paved the way for others.

Watching Hillary Clinton's rise to becoming a presidential nominee was an inspiring sight for millions. Carol Mosley Braun's name may not be known as well as Clinton's, but she too inspired millions as the first -- and only -- African-American woman elected to the Senate. So did Ursula Burns, the first woman to serve on Xerox's powerful Finance Committee.

Those are just a few of the trailblazers who boldly broke barriers to move beyond expectations.

Below is a look back at a few memorable "firsts" accomplished by some of the world's most iconic and unsung "sheroes" indelible legacies, including Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton and Liu Yang.

A brief history of women’s firsts
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A brief history of women’s firsts
Sandra Day O'Connor, appointed by Ronald Reagan, the first woman justice to serve on the nation's highest court in 1981.

Liu Yang was China's first female astronaut to enter outer space in 2012.

Joining NASA in 1978, Dr. Sally K. Ride became the first American woman to enter outer space in 1983.

In 2012, Serena became the first woman in history to win singles titles at a Grand Slam event, a Premier Mandatory event, the Olympics , and the WTA Championships.

Rebecca Felton was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill a temporary vacancy in 1922, serving only two days.

Patricia Roberts Harris was the first African American woman to serve in the United States Cabinet, and the first ever to enter the line of succession to the Presidency.
Catherine Cortez Masto was the first Latina elected to serve in the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Pratibha Devisingh Patil became the first female President of India in 2007 and held office until 2012.

When she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2001, Hillary Clinton became the first American first lady to win a public office seat, and was the first female presidential nominee of any major party in 2016.

Condoleezza Rice became the first female African-American Secretary of State in 2005, as well as the second African-American Secretary of State following Colin Powell.

Constance Baker Motley was the first African-American woman to be appointed as a federal judge by Lyndon B. Johnson.

American swimmer Gertrude Ederle achieved fame when she became the first woman to swim across the English Channel in 1926.

Arunima Sinha lost her leg after she was thrown from a moving train two years ago, and became the first female amputee to climb Everest in 2011.

Mother Teresa was the Indian woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She gave her life to social work, becoming the founder of a long list of Missionaries of Charity.

Oprah Winfrey, who was the first African American woman to become a billionaire, also became the first female African-American television show host in 1986.


What "famous firsts" will women achieve next?

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