Pilot Jacqueline Cochran Standing on Airplane

Breaking Boundaries: 25 Women Pioneers You Probably Don’t Know

Making their mark on history, these women refused to be defined by their gender.

You’ve heard of Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart for their remarkable achievements in science and aviation, respectively, but do you know the name of the first woman to run for president? How about the first woman to become a self-made millionaire? While many of the twenty-five individuals highlighted below aren’t household names, they are a reminder that women have been breaking boundaries — and the proverbial glass ceiling — for a long time. From medicine and sports, to politics and space travel, here’s a look back at some of history’s most inspiring female pioneers.

Elizabeth Blackwell Time Life Pictures/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Elizabeth Blackwell First woman to earn a medical degree in the U.S. (1849) Victoria Woodhull Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Victoria Woodhull First woman to run for President of the United States (1872) Charlotte Cooper Topical Press Agency/Getty Images Charlotte Cooper First woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal (1900) Jeannette Rankin Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Jeannette Rankin First woman to hold federal office in the U.S., she served in Congress representing Montana (1916) Loretta Walsh Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Loretta Walsh First woman to enlist, and serve active-duty, in the U.S. Navy (1917) Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) Michael Ochs Archives Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) First female self-made millionaire (1919) Edith Wharton Fotosearch/Getty Images Edith Wharton First woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature (1921) Rebecca Felton Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images Rebecca Felton First woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, representing Georgia, though only for one day (1922) Aloha Wanderwell Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Aloha Wanderwell First woman to drive around the world (1922-1927) Nellie Tayloe Ross Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Nellie Tayloe Ross First woman elected a U.S. Governor, serving Wyoming (1925) Gertrud Ederle ullstein bild via Getty Images Gertrud Ederle First woman to swim across the English Channel (1926) Hattie Caraway Underwood And Underwood/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images Hattie Caraway First woman elected into the U.S. Senate for a full term, representing Arkansas (1932) Frances Perkins Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images Frances Perkins First female member of a Presidential cabinet (1933) Jacqueline Cochran George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images Jacqueline Cochran First woman to break the sound barrier (1953) Althea Gibson Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Althea Gibson First person of color to compete at Wimbledon (1951) and win the tournament (1957) Valentina Tereshkova Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Valentina Tereshkova First woman in space (1963) Jerrie Mock PhotoQuest/Getty Images Jerrie Mock First woman to fly solo around the world (1964) Kathy Switzer Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images Kathy Switzer First woman to officially run the Boston marathon (1967) Diane Crump Ray Fisher/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images Diane Crump First female Kentucky Derby jockey (1970) Katharine Graham Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Katharine Graham First female Fortune 500 CEO as CEO of the Washington Post Company (1972) Junko Tabei Keystone/Getty Images Junko Tabei First woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest (1975) Janet Guthrie Bob Harmeyer/Getty Images Janet Guthrie First woman to qualify and compete in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500 (1977) Jeane Kirkpatrick Estate Of Evelyn Hofer/Getty Images Jeane Kirkpatrick First woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1981) Svetlana Savitskaya Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Svetlana Savitskaya First woman to walk in space (1984) Manon Rheame B Bennett/Getty Images Manon Rheame First woman to play in a NHL game (1992)