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30 years since Sally Ride: 10 incredible female firsts

June 18, 2013 at 11:34 AM ET

Trailblazers Sally Ride, Oprah Winfrey and Kathryn Bigelow.
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Trailblazers Sally Ride, Oprah Winfrey and Kathryn Bigelow.

Thirty years ago Tuesday, a NASA physicist named Sally Ride broke through the ultimate glass ceiling and kept going. On June 18, 1983, Ride became the first American woman to fly into space, a crew member aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

NASA astronaut Sally Ride, poses, in June 1983 in Johnson Space Center, Houston. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space as a crewmember o...
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NASA astronaut Sally Ride, poses, in June 1983 in Johnson Space Center, Houston.

Women have cleared numerous other barriers since Ride broke free of Earth's orbit. Here's a look at 10 of those individuals and some of their accomplishments:

1984: Geraldine Ferraro becomes the first female vice presidential candidate to represent a major American political party.

MISS AMERICA PAGEANT 1984 -- Pictured: Vanessa Williams  -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
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Vanessa Williams in her Miss America crown in 1984.

1984: Vanessa Williams wins the Miss America title, the first African American to wear the crown.

1986: Oprah Winfrey’s television program enters national syndication and the host becomes the first woman with the highest-rated talk show in TV history.

1994: Judith Rodin takes the helm of the University of Pennsylvania and becomes the first woman president of an Ivy League institution.

1996: The professional Women’s National Basketball Association (WBNA) is created as a counterpart to the National Basketball Association. League play begins the following year.

1997: Madeleine Albright becomes the first woman secretary of state, serving under the administration of President Bill Clinton.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 5:  US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright listens during House Appropriations Committee hearings on Capitol Hill in Washingt...
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Madeleine Albright became the first woman secretary of state.

2005: Hillary Clinton becomes the only first lady to be elected to public office. She won a seat as a U.S. senator representing New York and later became a viable presidential candidate and, more recently, secretary of state.

2007: Nancy Pelosi is elected the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

2009: The U.S. Senate confirms Sonia Sotomayor, who becomes the first Hispanic American – and only the third woman – to serve on the Supreme Court.

2010: Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win an Academy Award in the best director category for “The Hurt Locker.”

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