Firsts for Women: October 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:

  • Ijeoma Agugua – first woman affirmed by the Supreme Court as chief judge of Imo State in Nigeria.
  • Maryam Buti Al Suwaidi – first woman to serve as chief executive officer of the Securities and Commodities Authority, the United Arab Emirates’ markets regulator.
  • Nana Aba Appiah Amfo – first woman to be appointed as the substantive vice-chancellor of the University of Ghana.
  • Mitzi Angel – first woman named as president of FSG (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), part of Macmillan Publishers.
  • Rebecca M. Blank – first woman appointed as president of Northwestern University.
  • Jeannine Caldbeck – first woman in Canada to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association.
  • Jessika Carr – first woman referee to call a WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) match in Saudi Arabia.
  • Clare Connor – first woman to be president of the Marylebone Cricket Club in its 234-year history.
  • Dorinda Cox – first female Indigenous senator from Western Australia.
  • Bev Craig – first woman elected as leader of Manchester City Council, the local government authority for Manchester, a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England.
  • Taya Currie – first girl selected in the Ontario Hockey League Draft.
  • Maeve Danaher – first woman to win the team event at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews Links.
  • Sydne Didier – first woman and only second person to swim non-stop around the island of St. John, a 23-mile trip.
  • Kristie Elliott – first woman in Canada to play and score in a college (American) football game.
  • Lisa Erikson – first woman to lead the Minnesota Air National Guard.
  • Carla B. Freedman – first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York.
  • Brenda Frese – first woman inducted into Washington D.C. Metro Basketball Hall of Fame. She has served as the head coach of the University of Maryland women’s basketball team since 2002.
  • Sophie Goldschmidt – first woman president and chief executive officer of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.
  • Jyoti Gondek – first woman elected as mayor of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
  • Katie Guay – first woman to referee an American Hockey League game.
  • Fadwa Hammoud – first Arab American Muslim woman to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Lynda Roscoe Hartigan – first woman to serve as executive director and CEO of the Peabody Essex Museum, a world-renowned art museum in Salem, Massachusetts, USA.
  • Caitriona Jackman – first woman senior physics professor at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
  • Sufiya Khan – first woman runner to complete the nearly 300-mile run from Manali to Leh, India, for the Himalayan Ultra Run Expedition.
  • Moushira Khattab – first woman to lead Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights, the country’s independent council in charge of developing and promoting human rights.
  • Cindy Kiro – first indigenous Māori woman to be named governor-general of New Zealand.
  • Xia Li (real name Zhao Xia) – first Chinese woman wrestler to appear on the WWE’s main roster.
  • Lashana Lynch – first Black woman to take on the 007 title in a James Bond film.
  • Oksana Lyniv – first woman music director for an Italian Opera company; first woman conductor of a concert in celebration of United Nations Day.
  • Anshu Malik – first Indian woman to reach the finals of the World Wrestling Championship.
  • Carol Marsh OBE – first woman chair of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, a multidisciplinary professional engineering institution.
  • Sandra Mason – first elected president of Barbados. She will be sworn in on 30 November when the island nation becomes a republic and removes Queen Elizabeth as its head of state.
  • Donna McDowall – first woman president of the Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA)’s board of directors.
  • Kateryna Monzul – first woman to referee a senior men’s international game with a Nations League match.
  • Puan Hajah Norrida Yusoff – first woman to serve as chairperson of the Malaysian Timber Council.
  • Ellyse Perry – first woman cricketer to achieve the double of 5,000 runs and 300 wickets in international cricket.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Chelsea Porterfield – first woman to lead an all-woman changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, USA. She is also the first woman to lead the changing of the guard ceremony as a sergeant of the guard.
  • Louise Ho Pui-shan – first woman to serve as customs chief in Hong Kong.
  • Maria Ressa – first person from the Philippines to win a Nobel Prize and only woman Nobel Prize winner in 2021.
  • Shree Saini – first Indian-born and first Asian woman to be crowned Miss World America.
  • Amina Shah – first woman and first person of mixed race to serve as chief executive of the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, one of Europe’s leading research libraries.
  • Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir – first woman to be elected head of KSÍ, the Football Association of Iceland. She is the only woman currently in charge of a soccer association among the 55 national association members of UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations.
  • Tracy Sormanti – first woman to be inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame. The cheerleader director passed away in December 2020.
  • Nathalie Stutzmann – first woman to be the music director with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
  • Jennifer Togliatti – first woman to serve as chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission, which oversees gambling regulation in Las Vegas and the state of Nevada.
  • Lt. Colonel Kristal Turner-Childs – first Black woman to be named deputy commissioner of staff in the Pennsylvania State Police.
  • Anna Tybor – first woman to scale Nepal’s Mt. Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world, without oxygen. She was also the first Polish woman to ski down it.
  • Vanessa Waldref – first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington. U.S. attorneys are responsible for federal criminal prosecutions in 93 different districts across the U.S. and its territories.
  • Wang Yaping – first woman assigned to work on China’s new Tiangong space station.
  • Kirsten Welsh – first woman linesperson in the Ontario Hockey League.
  • Jeannette Wing – first woman, Asian American and computer science professor to serve as executive vice president for research at Columbia University.
  • Tomoko Yoshino – first woman to serve as chief of Rengo, Japan’s largest labor organization.
  • Brittney Zamora – first woman driver to win a premier race at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. 

Moments we missed in September:

  • Montserrat Caballero – first woman to serve as mayor of Tijuana, Mexico.
  • Cassidy Caron – first woman to serve as president of the Métis National Council, the representative body of the Métis people of northwestern Canada.

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]