15 Times Women Made History in the Past Year

Kamala Harris Being Sworn in As the First Female Vice President of the United States

That’s Madam Vice President to you! Kamala Harris made history on Jan. 20, 2021 when she was sworn in as the first female, first Asian American and first Black Vice President of the United States. 

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Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration Poem Makes History

22-year-old Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in United States history on Jan. 20, 2021 when she recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Joe Biden’s swearing in ceremony. 

Gorman has made history before: She is also the nation’s first Youth Poet Laureate. 

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Stacey Abrams Flipping Georgia Blue

Abrams — who is one of PEOPLE’s Women Changing the World this year — founded the New Georgia Project and then Fair Fight, both instrumental in driving an enormous number of voter registrations in Georgia in recent years, including some 800,000 new voters between the 2018 and the 2020 election. 

Those voters, in turn, were instrumental in turning Georgia blue in the 2020 presidential election and senate race. Though the face of the movement, Abrams shares credit for the massive voter turn out. She tweeted in January “Let’s celebrate the extraordinary organizers, volunteers, canvassers & tireless groups that haven’t stopped going.” 

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Cori Bush Becoming the First Black Woman to Represent Missouri in Congress

Kamala Harris wasn’t the only woman making history on Election Day! Cori Bush became the first Black Congresswoman in the history of Missouri after being elected to Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. 

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Gitanjali Rao Being Named TIME‘s First Kid of the Year

Need some serious inspiration? 15-year-old Gitanjali Rao was named TIME‘s first Kid of the Year in December 2020. Rao has “used science to tackle issues from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction to cyberbullying.”

Her app, Kindly, detects cyberbullying using artificial intelligence and helps kids correct their phrasing and tone before they send a message that may be hurtful to others. 

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Three Women Being Nominated for Best Picture at the Golden Globes

For the first time in the award show’s history, three women were nominated in the best director category. 

Chloe Zhao was nominated for Nomadland, Emerald Fennell was nominated for Promising Young Woman and Regina King was nominated for One Night in Miami.

It marked the first time that more than one woman was nominated for the award. Prior to these nominations, only five female directors had been nominated in total; Kathryn Bigelow remains the only woman to have won, for The Hurt Locker, in 2009.

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Chloé Zhao Becoming the First Asian Woman and Second Woman to Win Best Director at the Golden Globes

Winning the Golden Globe for best director for her film Nomadland, the 28-year-old became the first Asian woman and second woman to go home with the prestigious award. 

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Christina Koch Completing a Record-Breaking Space Mission

NASA astronaut and one of PEOPLE’s Women Changing the World, Christina Koch, returned to Earth on Feb. 6, 2020 after spending 328 days aboard the International Space Station. Her trip surpassed the previous record held by Peggy Whitson for the longest single spaceflight by a woman.

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Jacinda Ardern’s Powerful Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ardern became New Zealand’s youngest female Prime Minister since 1856 when she was elected in 2017. In 2020, she was re-elected, and largely praised for the way she handled the COVID-19 pandemic, setting strict guidelines and virtually eliminating the virus from the country. 

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Nanaia Mahuta Becoming the First Indigenous Female Foreign Minister of New Zealand

On Nov. 2, 2020, New Zealand parliament appointed the country’s first indigenous female foreign minister, Nanaia Mahuta. Mahuta became one of the nation’s five Māori ministers. 

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Kathrin Jansen Leading the Development of the Pfizer Vaccine

Jansen is the Senior Vice President and Head of Vaccine Research and Development at Pfizer Inc., which is one of the companies that rolled out a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. She and two other female scientists were instrumental in the unprecedented turnaround for the successful vaccine.

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Margaret Zhang Becoming the Youngest Editor-in-Chief of Vogue

Zhang is the youngest editor-in-chief at Vogue, stepping into the role at Vogue China. She is just 27 years old. 

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour said of her appointment, “I am so delighted that Margaret is our new editor-in-chief of Vogue China. Her international experience, exceptional multiplatform digital expertise, and wide-ranging interests are the perfect combination to lead Vogue China into the future.”

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Dr. Jennifer Doudna and Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentie Winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

In October 2020, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to two women at once for the very first time: Emmanuelle Charpentier, Ph.D., and Jennifer A. Doudna, Ph.D. 

It is the first time that the prize, which the women won for developing for genome-editing technology, was awarded to two women, and the pair are only the sixth and seventh women in total to receive this particular prize. 

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Naomi Osaka Dominating in Tennis

Not only did Osaka earn the title of highest-paid female athlete of all time in 2020, the 23-year-old tennis star won her fourth Grand Slam title to date when she won the Australian Open in 2021. She was also named one of PEOPLE’s Women Changing the World in 2021. 

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Hayley Arceneaux Becoming the Youngest Woman to Go to Space

Arceneaux — a 29-year-old physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee and cancer survivor — was chosen to join the first all-civilian mission into outer space.That will make her the youngest woman to go to space! 

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