Firsts for Women: November 2021

Zonta International celebrates "firsts for women" in all different sectors in countries and communities around the world.

Looking back on last month, we acknowledge the following women:

  • Yael Arad – first woman selected to head the Olympic Committee of Israel.
  • Magdalena Andersson – first woman elected as Sweden's prime minister.
  • Marina del Pilar Ávila – first woman to serve as governor of Baja California, Mexico.
  • Annalena Baerbock – first woman appointed foreign minister of Germany.
  • Katie Blackburn – first woman to be a member of the National Football League's Competition Committee.
  • Vickii Cornborough – first woman elected to a Rugby Players' Association leadership role.
  • Adrienne Fairwell – first Black person to be named general manager of Arizona Public Broadcasting Service.
  • Liz Dowe Filmore – first woman appointed as Alabama governor's chief of staff.
  • Michelle Gatting – first woman driver to become overall champion of Ferrari Challenge Europe Trofeo Pirelli.
  • Emma Gilmour – first woman driver for McLaren Racing, Formula One's second most successful team.
  • Elizabeth Gray – first woman to serve as CEO of the National Audubon Society, an American nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats.
  • Kamala Harris – first woman to serve as acting U.S. president when she was temporarily transferred power while President Joe Biden underwent anesthesia.
  • Julia Hawkins – first woman in the centenarian age group and oldest American to run a 100-meter race at 105 years old.
  • Erin Jackson – first Black American woman to win speedskating World Cup.
  • Lieutenant General Nigar Johar – first woman lieutenant general to be appointed as Colonel Commandant of the Pakistan Army Medical Corps.
  • Leila ben Khalifa – first woman to run for president in Libya.
  • Kelsey Koelzer – first Black woman to coach a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hockey team.
  • Sangya Malla – first Nepali woman to be awarded the United Nations Woman Police Officer of the Year Award by the United Nations Department of Peace Operations. She is also a member of the Zonta Club of Kathmandu.
  • Lalisa Manobal (known as Lisa in Blackpink) – first female K-Pop soloist to chart a song for two weeks on Billboard's Hot 100.
  • Gesa Miczaika and Bettine Schmitz – founders of Auxxo, Germany's first venture capital fund looking to solely back female-founded startups.
  • Hayley Murphy – first woman director and CEO of the Detroit Zoo.
  • Elisabeth Pähtz – first German woman chess player to rise to the rank of full grandmaster.
  • Ellen Park – first Korean woman to be elected to the New Jersey Legislature.
  • Leila Mejdalani Pereira – first woman elected president of Palmeiras, a Brazilian professional soccer club.
  • Louise Richardson – first woman to be named president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
  • Janet Rollé – first Black woman appointed CEO and executive director of the American Ballet Theatre.
  • Winsome Sears – first woman lieutenant governor and the first woman of color to win statewide office in Virginia.
  • Fallon Sherrock – first woman to make it to the knockout stages of the Grand Slam of Darts.
  • Heather Stefanson – first woman premier of Manitoba, Canada.
  • Katey Stone – first woman head coach of a college athletic team to reach 500 wins after leading the Harvard women's hockey team to victory.
  • Sarah Taylor – first woman coach in men's professional franchise cricket.
  • Keishia Thorpe – first Black woman to win the Global Teacher Prize, a US$1 million award presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.
  • Raquel Coronell Uribe – first Hispanic president of Harvard's daily newspaper, the Harvard Crimson.
  • Jessica Watkins – first Black woman selected to join the crew of the International Space Station.
  • Pamela Whitten – first woman president of Indiana University.
  • Michelle Wu – first woman and first person of color to be elected mayor of Boston.
  • Major Y (name withheld for security reasons) – first woman to serve as squadron commander in the Israel Air Force Flight School.
  • Wang Yaping – first woman from China to walk in space.
  • First woman graduated from the U.S. Army's elite sniper school. The solder, who enlisted in the Montana National Guard last December, has not been identified.

Moments we missed in October:

  • Joann Diaz – first Latina fire lieutenant in the Fire Department of the City of New York.
  • Eve Stephens – first Asian American woman commander of the Austin Police Department in Austin, Texas.

As an organization that has fought for gender equality for more than 100 years, Zonta International believes it is important to celebrate and honor women who are making history. Each month, we will recognize women who have broken the glass ceiling and set an example for future generations to come.

Do you know of a first for women moment that should be recognized? Share with us at [email protected]