Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Historical Women’s Rights Moments

On January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris was inducted as the Vice President of the United States. Vice President Harris is the first woman, as well as the first person of Jamaican, African, and South Asian ancestry, to hold this position.

Many things have led up to this big moment – let’s review.


May 29, 1851 – “Ain’t I a Woman” speech

Sojourner Truth was born a slave but gained freedom in 1827. After being freed, she became an anti-slavery speaker and later devoted her life to women’s rights work. She said her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech during the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention.

1903 – First Women Awarded a Nobel Prize

Marie Curie was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911.

August 18, 1920 – Women win the right to vote

The 19th Amendment was passed that granted women the right to vote.

November 21, 1922 – First Female United States Senator

After being appointed on October 3, 1922, Rebecca Felton took the oath of office later that November and became the first woman to serve in the United States Senate.

June 10, 1963 – Equal Pay Act is Passed

The Equal Pay Act was signed by John F. Kennedy and abolished wage discrimination against women.

January 22, 1973 – Right to Abortion

Via the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protects women’s rights to an abortion.

October 28, 1974 – Equal Credit Act is Passed

This act gave women the authority over their own financial decisions (ability to open bank accounts, apply for credit cards in their names, take out personal loans, etc.) without a male cosigner. 

August 19, 1981 – First Female Supreme Court Justice

The first woman, Sandra Day O’Connor, was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan.

January 24, 2007 – First Female Speaker of the House

Rep. Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House. She reclaimed the title in 2019 and became the first to hold this position two times in more than 50 years.

January 24, 2013 – Military Ban Removed

The United States Military removed a ban against women serving in combat positions.

July 26, 2016 – First Woman to be Nominated by a Major Political Party

Hillary Clinton was nominated for president by the Democratic Party, making her the first female presidential nominee of a major political party.


These moments and many more led up to Vice President Kamala Harris “shattering the glass ceiling” — a popular banner that describes Harris breaking through many political barriers. 

But we cannot stop here. Even with all the progress that’s been done, women are not on the same playing field as men. The swearing-in of Kamala Harris has brought many hopes, and set a foundation we can build upon. Will America be ready for a female president in 4 years? They won’t be if we don’t make them.

     “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.” – Vice President Harris