Last Friday, Lisa Jaster became the third woman - and first mother - to graduate from Army Ranger school. 

Here at Relan, we are especially proud: Jaster is not only a trailblazer in her field, but she was also a classmate of our President, Kari, at West Point! 

Jaster's accomplishment got us to thinking:

Who are other female pioneers in male-dominated industries? 

To honor Jaster, we pulled together a list of 14 other trailblazing women you need to know about: 


 Sally Ride, first American woman to fly in space

1. First American woman in space

Sally Ride, 1983

Sally Ride was one of six women to join NASA’s astronaut program in 1977. In 1983, she became the first American woman to fly in space. After her retirement, she created Sally Ride Science, an organization that encourages girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math careers.

 Alice Stebbin Wells quote

2. First female police officer

Alice Stebbin Wells, 1910 

Alice Stebbin Wells officially joined the LAPD in September, 1910. Though there is some controversy as to whether or not she was the first female police officer, Wells introduced the idea that female officers were particularly well-qualified to work with juveniles and female criminals.


 Kristen Griest and Shaye Haver, first female Army Ranger graduates

3. First women to graduate from Army Ranger school

CPT Kristen Griest and 1LT Shaye Haver, 2015

In August, 2015, CPT Kristen Griest and 1LT Shaye Haver became the first women to graduate from Army Ranger school. Four hundred soldiers started the program in April, but only 94 completed the full course. This is the first year that women have been able to enroll in the school. 

 Elizabeth Blackwell quote

4. First female doctor in the U.S. 

Elizabeth Blackwell, 1849

In 1847, Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to be accepted into medical school, and she was accepted as a joke by her male classmates. Blackwell proudly graduated in 1849, eventually opening her own practice, which included the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. She was also a professor of gynecology and paved the way for future women in medicine. 

 Judith Brewer, first female career firefighter

5. First female career firefighter

Judith Brewer, 1974  

Here's a fun fact: Women have been fighting fire since the 1800s! However, it wasn’t until 1974 when Judy Brewer became the first female career firefighter in Arlington County, VA. She was criticized at first, as people believed she was incapable of providing enough support during a fire. Others believed that fire stations were no place for a lady. Today, more than 20 women serve as Arlington firefighters. 

 Sarah Breedlove Walker quote

6. First female self-made millionaire in the U.S.

Sarah Breedlove Walker, 1867 

Sarah Breedlove Walker, AKA Madame C.J. Walker, was the first female self-made millionaire in America. Born to former slaves, she faced the odds stacked against her to become a prolific entrepreneur. In the 1890s, she developed a tonic said to promote hair growth and helped pioneer a system of multilevel marketing. At a time when most unskilled workers were making $11/week, Walker’s agents were making $5-15/day. “I know how to grow hair as well as I know how to grow cotton. I have built my own factory on my own ground.” 

 Jeannette Rankin first woman in Congress

7. First woman to be elected into Congress

Jeannette Rankin, 1917

Jeannette Rankin was elected into Congress in 1917, before women even had the right to vote. Today, over 300 women have served in Congress. “I may be the first woman member of Congress,” Rankin said when she was elected. “But I won’t be the last.”

 Marie Curie quote

8. First woman to win a Nobel Prize

Marie Curie, 1900s 

Marie Curie won her first Nobel Prize in 1903 alongside her husband for their work in radioactivity. She won her second - and the first solo Nobel Prize for a woman - in 1911 for her discovery of radium and polonium. Curie left us with these words to live by: “We must have perseverance and above all, confidence in ourselves.” 

 Judith Rodin first woman appointed to lead Ivy League university

9. First woman appointed to lead an Ivy League university

Judith Rodin, 1994

Judith Rodin is the president of the Rockefeller Foundation and was the first woman appointed to lead an Ivy League university when she took the reigns at the University of Pennsylvania in 1994. She is also a pioneer of behavioral health and health psychology. Talk about a power woman! 

 Victoria Woodhull quote

10. First woman to run for President

Victoria Woodhull, 1872

In 1872, Victoria Woodhull threw her hat in the ring as the first female Presidential nominee, almost 50 years before women earned the right to vote. She ran on the platform of universal suffrage, political reform, civil rights and social welfare. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and take on controversial issues and for that, we love her. 

 West Point graduation

11. First class of women to graduate from West Point

Class of 1980

In 1980, the first class of women walked across the stage at West Point’s graduation. Sixty-two women graduated that year, becoming second lieutenants in the Army. This year marks the 35th reunion of the class of 1980 and since their graduation, more than 4,000 women have followed in their footsteps at West Point. 

 Quote from first female to sign with MLB, Melissa Mayeux

12. First woman eligible to sign with the MLB 

Melissa Mayeux, 2015

This year, Melissa Mayeux was added to the MLB’s international registration list, becoming the first woman eligible to sign with the MLB. The 16-year-old from France is a stellar shortstop and currently plays for France’s senior national softball team. Go get em, Mayeux! 

 Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, first female four-star general in Army

13. First woman to become a four-star general in the Army

Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, 2008 

Dunwoody joined the army in 1974 and in 2008, became the first female four-star general in the Army. After 38 years of service, she retired in 2012. “I never grew up in an environment where I even heard of the word ‘glass ceiling.’ You could always be anything you wanted to be if you worked hard." 

 Jen Welter quote

14. First female coach and ref in the NFL 

Sarah Thomas and Jen Welter, 2015

Sarah Thomas and Jen Welter are changing the game of football as the first female referee and first female coach in the NFL. Thomas earned her title as a full-time official in April and Welter was added to the Cardinals staff in July. We can’t wait to see what women will do next in the NFL!

Have you been to the National Women's History Museum?

Neither have we, because it still doesn't exist.

The National Women's History Museum is working hard to change that, pushing to build a world-class museum in D.C.'s National Mall to honor the accomplishments of women in history. 

You can learn more about the NWHM vision and get involved by visting their website at

Your Turn: 

Who is a female pioneer in your life? Tell us in the comments below!

Images: 1) Sally Ride: NASA 2) Kristen Griest and Shaye Haver: Flickr/Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office 3) Arlington Fire: Flickr/Jason OX4  4) Jeannette Rankin: Flickr/JD Thomas 5) Judith Rodin: Flickr/PopTech 6) West Point: Flickr/U.S. Army 7 + header photo) Ann E. Dunwoody: Flickr/U.S. Army