There have been a lot of first for women over the many years of our history. From Anne Hutchinson who was the first women to start a protestant section, to Katie Sowers who just recently became the first woman coach in the NFL super bowl, women have been making waves for centuries. During these difficult times when we are facing the coronavirus, let’s take some time to look at a few of the different women who have paved the way for us all.
Let’s start off in the 17th century when Anne Hutchinson was the first American women to start a Protestant section. Hutchinson was originally criticized for her beliefs by the Puritans in Massachusetts. She strongly favored supporting the conscience of the individual and leaders at the time were completely against her. These Puritans banished her from Massachusetts for this, so she was forced to move to Rhode Island which she helped found. She took a stand and went against male members of the church so that future women could follow their intuition when looking for salvation. (Learn more about her here)
Next let’s look at Sarah Hale who was an influential American Writer and editor who was also the first editor of a major women’s magazine. You might know Hale for her famous nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, but her work extends far beyond that. She edited for the Godey’s Lady’s Book and her work cover everything from women’s education to child rearing. Today Hale is criticized heavily for giving into specific gender roles, but her being the first influential female editor set the standard that women can be doing more. (Learn more about her here)
Margaret Abbott was the first American woman to win gold in an Olympic event, and she was the second to win internationally (right behind Charlotte Cooper who played tennis for England). She won her award for the game of golf and her mother also entered with her and got 8th place. Her nine-hole game in the Summer of 1900 had a score of 47. (Learn more about her here)
Everybody knows the song “Respect” and the woman behind it is the one and only Aretha Franklin. Franklin was a gifted singer and pianist who went on to release tons of hit singles. She is considered one of the most honored artists at the Grammys with a total of 18 awards. (The only other female artists that have topped her are country bluegrass singer Alison Krauss with 27 awards and the Queen Bee herself, Beyoncé with 24 awards) Aretha Franklin was also the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. (Learn more about her here)
In 1964, Patsy Mink was the first woman from a minority to be elected into congress in 1964. She is a third generation Japanese American and she served for in congress for FOUR DECADES. Mink spoke up for the rights of immigrants, women, and children, and she aggressively championed title IX. In 1972 she was also the first Asian-American to seek the democratic presidential nomination. (Learn more about her here)
Chien-Shiung Wu was an American trained physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project. She did experiments in physics that disproved the law of conservation of parity, and she eventually became the first female president of the American Physical Society. Some of her famous nicknames included the First Lady of Physics, Chinese Madame Curie, and the Queen of Nuclear Research. (Learn more about her here)
Lastly let’s look at Katie Sowers who just recently became not only the first female to coach at the Super Bowl, but also the first openly gay coach at the Super Bowl. Though the 49ers didn’t take home the win Sowers made a lasting impact on how women can break through even in a super male driven sport. (Learn more about her here)