As with anything in life, there must always be A First Time, no matter what it is you’re doing. For a little bit of fun, and to mark this blog’s first proper post, how about this list of intrepid women being first…
The first First Lady.
Well, that’s a tongue twister, isn’t it? That honour goes to Martha Washington, the wife of the first U.S President George Washington, 1789 – 1797. The title, however, of First Lady didn’t come into use until after her death. Nor did she ever live in the White House as it hadn’t been built at the time, but work for the famous building did begin during George Washington’s term of office.
The U.K’s first female Prime Minister.
Margaret Hilda Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party in 1975 after defeating Edward Heath and then became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1979 and 1990. This made her the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century and the first woman to hold that office.
First woman in space.
Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in Space on June 16 1963 when she was on the Vostok 6 mission. In a little under three days, she orbited the earth 48 times, and on her return, she was given the medal ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’.
First IVF baby
At 11.47pm July 25 1978, Louise Joy Brown was born at Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester weighing 5lbs, 12 ounces. She was conceived by the – then experimental – technique in vitro fertilization (IVF), and coining the phrase of ‘test tube baby’. She went on to have a child of her own in December 2006. Her son Cameron John Mullinder was conceived naturally.
First woman to run a marathon
Kathrine Switzer ran in the Boston Marathon as a numbered entrant in 1967, a race official tried to stop her by lunging for her official bib, but was halted by another race entrant – her boyfriend Thomas Miller. Kathrine Switzer finished the race in 4 hours and 20 minutes. Fifty years later, at 70 years of age, she completed the 2017 Boston Marathon again, wearing the same bib number of 261 and finished with a time of 4 hours, 44 minutes and 31 seconds.
First woman to win a Nobel Prize
In 1903, Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in Physics along with her husband Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel. In 1911, she also won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and became the first person (man or woman) to win a second Nobel Prize and for two different scientific fields. She became the first woman to be employed at the University of Paris following the death of her husband in 1906, due to a traffic accident.
When war broke out in 1914, Curie helped equip more than 20 ambulances -which became known as ‘Little Curies’ and she even drove one herself – and hundreds of field hospitals with basic x-ray machines and Radon gas syringes designed to cauterise wounds. It was estimated that during the course of the war, her equipment helped to save the lives of a million soldiers.
First woman to climb Everest.
Not only was Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1975, but in 1992 she was also the first woman to ascend all Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on every continent.
First woman to sail around the world
Dame Naomi James left Devon on 9 September 1977 on her journey to sail single-handedly around the world (via Cape Horn) and returned on 8 June 1978 – taking 272 days. In recognition of her journey, she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979.
First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean
Amelia Mary Earhart made her solo transatlantic flight on May 20 1932, She went from Newfoundland to Ireland in just under 15 hours and was awarded the United States’ Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to circumnavigate the globe. Her disappearance remains a mystery.
First woman to swim the English Channel
This was Gertrude Caroline Ederle on 6 August 1926 on her second attempt. She set off from Cape Gris-Nez in France and ended up at Kingsdown in Kent at 9.04 pm with a time of 14 hours and 39 minutes breaking the previous record by almost 2 hours. Gertrude Ederle had always had poor hearing due to contracting measles as a child, but at 23, she said that so much immersion in the water was causing her to go deaf. She later taught children to swim at the Lexington School For The Deaf.