7 Fierce Pioneers Who Paved the Way for the Women of Today [LIST]

International Women’s Day celebration of extraordinary ladies

Mar 7, 2014

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March 8 marks International Women’s Day, an occasion to celebrate and draw attention to the accomplishments of women throughout the world. While there have been many advancements in the 21st century, the women of today did not get there alone. Rather there were pioneers, strong women who paved the way for generations of girls. Without further ado, please enjoy a list celebrating the women who did it first.

1. TECHNOLOGY - FIRST FEMALE COMPUTER PROGRAMMER

WHO: Ada Lovelace
WHAT: Not only is Lovelace the first female computer programmer, she is attributed to being the world’s first computer programmer! The daughter of famed poet Lord Byron, Lovelace was a mathematical genius, and in 1841 created programming for the precursor to the modern day computer- the Analytical Engine. The multi-talented woman even has an official holiday in her honor which celebrates women in science, technology, engineering and math.

Image from Wikipedia

2. MOVIES - FIRST FEMALE DIRECTOR
WHO: Alice Guy-Blache
WHAT: Guy-Blache was the first female director of a motion picture film, creating the first narrative fiction film in 1896 called La fée aux choux. Blache was an early innovator to the burgeoning field of film and employed never-done-before special effects like running a film backwards.  

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3. SPORTS - FIRST OLYMPIC GOLD WINNER
WHO: Charlotte Cooper Sterry
WHAT: The 1900 Summer Olympics held in Paris was the first Olympic games in which women were allowed to compete. Cooper, a gifted tennis player, won two gold medals in singles and mixed doubles. She is also the oldest Wimbledon’s ladies’ singles champion with a record of eight consecutive singles finals, which only until 1990, was surpassed by Martina Navratilova.

Image from Wikipedia

4. SPACE - FIRST FEMALE ASTRONAUT
WHO: Valentina Tereshkova
WHAT: At the age of 26, Tereshkova was the first woman to fly to space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists on June 16, 1973. Tereshkova spent 3 days in space making 48 orbits around Earth.

Image from Wikipedia

5. MEDICINE - FIRST FEMALE M.D.
WHO: Elizabeth Blackwell
WHAT: In 1849 Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree and graduate from medical school. She co-founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children in 1857, a full-scale hospital which served the poor and provided positions for women physicians and a training faculty for female medical and nursing students.

Image from Wikipedia

6. POLITICS - FIRST FEMALE PRIME MINISTER
WHO: Sirimavo Bandaranaike
WHAT: Sri Lanka is home to the world’s first female prime minister, who held the position three times over the course of forty years. In 1959, her husband S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who was prime minister was assassinated. Sirimavo quickly became a symbol to the nation and was elected leader. Her family is heavily involved in politics, leading to her daughter assuming leadership of Sri Lanka and holding office till 2005.

Image from Wikipedia

7. MUSIC - FIRST FEMALE CONDUCTOR OF A MAJOR ORCHESTRA

WHO: Marin Alsop
WHAT: The accomplished violinist and conductor is currently the musical director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2007 and principal conductor of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra since 2012. Alsop is a rarity in the traditionally male-dominated field of classical music conductors, and her success will hopefully open the doors for more women to assume similar positions.

Image from Marin Alsop's Facebook page

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