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30 years since Sally Ride: 10 incredible female firsts

Today
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.

Today
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.

NBC / Today
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.

Today
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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