First in her field

Faith Thomas

Faith Thomas was the first indigenous woman selected to play any sport for Australia. Faith was born in the Nepabunna Aboriginal mission in South Australia in 1933. Her mother, Ivy, was a traditional Adnyamathana woman from the Flinders Ranges, her father [...]

Dame Carol Kidu

Carol Millwater was born in Brisbane in 1948. Originally trained as a teacher, Carol’s life was transformed when she met her future husband Buri Kidu, a young boy on a colonial scholarship from Papua New Guinea, on a school camp in [...]

Wilma Mankiller

In 1983, Wilma Mankiller was elected the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation – the first woman ever to serve as chief of a major Native American tribe. Her last name, Mankiller derives from the high military rank achieved by [...]

Amelia Earhart

Born in 1897, Amelia Earhart was an American aviation pioneer, feminist and author. Aged 23, she visited an airfield with her father where Frank Hawks gave her a ride that would change her life. "By the time I had got two [...]

Pat O’Shane

Trailblazer Pat O'Shane's life is full of "firsts" - the first female Aboriginal teacher in Queensland; the first Aboriginal to earn a law degree; the first Aboriginal barrister; and the first woman and indigenous person to be the head of a [...]

Susan Kiefel

In January 2017, Susan Kiefel was sworn in as the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of Australia. That she came into the law without any prior social or family connection, marked her as an outlier in the upper echelons [...]

Ann Dunwoody

General Ann Dunwoody (retired) is the first woman in US military history to achieve a four star officer rank. Her father, Brigadier General Dunwoody, was a highly decorated veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and [...]

Maria Montessori

Born in Italy in 1870, Maria Montessori enrolled in the University of Rome's school of medicine in 1893. As a woman, she faced hostility from both fellow students and professors, but despite opposition, graduated with her degree and set up a [...]

Marin Alsop

Marin Alsop was born in New York City to professional musician parents, and was educated at the Masters School. She attended Yale University, but later transferred to the Juilliard School, where she earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in violin. [...]

Lucille Ball

Beginning her career in 1929 as a model, Lucille Ball was the star of the self-produced sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy, and Life with Lucy. After marrying Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz in 1940, [...]

Marie Curie

Marie Skłodowska Curie was born on 7 November in 1867 in Poland (later naturalised French). The physicist and chemist pioneered the research on radioactivity together with her husband Pierre Curie. Her achievements included a theory of radioactivity (a term that she coined), techniques [...]

Janet Yellen

Janet Yellen: First woman Chair of US Federal Reserve Janet Yellen became the new chair of the US Federal Reserve on 31 January 2014. Yellen, 67, is the first woman to head the US Federal Reserve in its 100 year history, [...]