The Coolest Female Firsts in History

List Rules
Vote up the coolest female firsts achieved by these real cool gals.

Did you know the first person to win an Emmy Award was a lady?! That's right. Lots of famous women in history have achieved important female firsts, paving the way for generations of women to come. Women's history is full of awesome females who accomplished great things, and were the first woman to do so. This list of notable female firsts is full of important women in history and the modern era who have set their sights on things only men had previously accomplished.

Who was the first female to dunk or become the first female NFL official? How about the first female to conduct a symphony orchestra, or the first female mayor? Great women in history are a varied and talented bunch, making headlines for things like being the first woman to argue before the US Supreme Court and even to serve as the first female justice on the Supreme Court. These female icons inspire young women everywhere and have opened doors for many.

From female firsts in American history, world history, and more recently the 21st Century, amazing women all over the globe (and even in space!) are making great strides. Which women do you think accomplished the coolest female firsts? Cast your votes below and learn all about these awesome ladies who weren't afraid of being first.

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  • Marie Curie
    Photo: Henri Manuel / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    1
    593 VOTES
    1903 - First Female Nobel Prize Winner
    Marie Skłodowska Curie ( KEWR-ee, French: [kyʁi], Polish: [kʲiˈri]; born Maria Salomea Skłodowska; 7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win the Nobel prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields. She was part of the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris. She was born in Warsaw, in what was ...more
    • Age: Dec. at 66 (1867-1934)
    • Birthplace: Warsaw, Second Polish Republic
    • Profession: Physicist, Chemist, Scientist
    593 votes
  • 1849 - First Female Doctor in the United States
    Elizabeth Blackwell (February 3, 1821 – May 31, 1910) was a British physician, notable as the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, and the first woman on the Medical Register of the General Medical Council. Blackwell played an important role in both the United States and the United Kingdom as a social and moral reformer, and pioneered in promoting education for women in medicine. Her contributions remain celebrated with the Elizabeth Blackwell Medal, awarded annually to a woman who has made significant contribution to the promotion of women in medicine.Blackwell was initially uninterested in a career in medicine especially after her schoolteacher brought in a ...more
    • Age: Dec. at 89 (1821-1910)
    • Birthplace: Bristol, United Kingdom
    • Profession: Physician
    449 votes
  • Valentina Tereshkova
    Photo: RIA Novosti archive, image #616304 / Alexander Mokletsov / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0
    1963 - First Female in Space
    Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (Russian: Валентина Владимировна Терешкова, IPA: [vɐlʲɪnʲˈtʲinə vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvnə tʲɪrʲɪʂˈkovə] (listen); born 6 March 1937) is a member of the Russian State Duma, engineer, and former cosmonaut. She is the first and youngest woman to have flown in space with a solo mission on the Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. She orbited the Earth 48 times, spent almost three days in space, and remains the only woman to have been on a solo space mission. Before her selection for the Soviet space program, Tereshkova was a textile factory worker and an amateur skydiver. She joined the Air Force as part of the Cosmonaut Corps and was commissioned as an officer after completing her ...more
    • Age: 85
    • Birthplace: Bolshoye Maslennikovo, Russia
    • Profession: Pilot, Politician, Astronaut
    480 votes
  • Amelia Earhart
    Photo: Underwood & Underwood / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    4
    504 VOTES
    1928 - First Female to Fly Solo Across the Atlantic Ocean
    Amelia Mary Earhart (, born July 24, 1897; disappeared July 2, 1937) was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences, and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots.Born in Atchison, Kansas, Earhart developed a passion for adventure at a young age, steadily gaining flying experience from her twenties. In 1928, Earhart became the first female passenger to cross the Atlantic by airplane (accompanying pilot Wilmer Stultz), for which she achieved celebrity status. In 1932, piloting a Lockheed Vega ...more
    • Birthplace: Atchison, Kansas
    • Profession: Pilot, Writer
    504 votes
  • Bessie Coleman
    Photo: National Air and Space Museum / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    5
    388 VOTES

    Bessie Coleman

    1921 - First Woman of African American and Native American Descent to Earn Her Pilot's License

    Bessie Coleman (January 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926) was an early American civil aviator. She was the first woman of African-American descent, and the first of Native American descent, to hold a pilot license. She achieved her international pilot license in 1921.Born to a family of sharecroppers in Texas, Coleman went into the cotton fields at a young age while also studying in a small segregated school and went on to attend one term of college at Langston University. She developed an early interest in flying, but African Americans, Native Americans, and women had no flight training opportunities in the United States, so she saved up money and obtained sponsorships to go to France for flight ...more
    • Age: Dec. at 34 (1892-1926)
    • Birthplace: Atlanta, Texas
    • Profession: Pilot
    388 votes
  • Sandra Day O'Connor
    Photo: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    1981 - First Female US Supreme Court Justice
    Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26, 1930) is a retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, who served from her 1981 appointment by President Ronald Reagan until her retirement in 2006. She was the first woman to serve on the Court.Prior to O'Connor's tenure on the Court, she was a judge and an elected official in Arizona, serving as the first female Majority Leader of a state senate as the Republican leader in the Arizona Senate. Upon her nomination to the Court, O'Connor was confirmed unanimously by the Senate. On July 1, 2005, she announced her intention to retire effective upon the confirmation of a successor. Samuel Alito was nominated to take her seat in ...more
    • Age: 92
    • Birthplace: El Paso, Texas, United States of America
    • Profession: Judge, Lawyer
    393 votes