Skip Navigation

Smith Alumnae “Firsts”

Barbara Hulley Ackermann '48
First woman mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts

Marylin Bender Altschul '44
First woman editor of The New York Times business section

Christine Von Wedemeyer Beshar '53
First woman partner in New York City’s largest law firm

Hari Brissimi '48
First woman director in the office of the UN High Commission

Adelaide Brown 1888
First woman on California State Board of Health

Ann Brown '59
First woman chair of Consumer Product Safety Commission

Barbara Pierce Bush '47 and Nancy Davis Reagan ’43
First ladies of the United States

Ann Baumgartner Carl '39
First woman to fly a jet plane

Eunice Hunton Carter 1921
First black woman district attorney in New York City

Victoria Chan-Palay '65
First woman to receive a medical degree summa cum laude from Harvard

Helen (Penny) Bates Chenery '43
First woman president of Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association

Mitsuru Claire Chino '88
First female executive officer of any major trading company in Japan, and the youngest

Adelaide Cromwell ’40
First African American faculty member at Hunter College and at Smith College

Otelia Cromwell 1900
First African American woman to receive a doctorate from Yale

Lucile Atcherson Curtis 1913
First woman appointed to the U.S. Foreign Service

Madeline McWhinney Dale '43
First woman officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York City

Katherine Woodruff Fanning '49
First woman president of American Society of Newspaper Editors

Renee Clair Fox '49
First woman chair of a department (sociology) at UPenn

Martha Euphemia Lofton Haynes 1914
First African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics

Gloria W. Heath '43
First woman to be awarded the Barbour Air Safety Award

Harriet Putnam Henry '45
First woman judge in Maine

Peggy Clark Kelley '35
First woman president of United Scenic Artists

Marjorie Fine Knowles '60
First inspector general of the U.S. Department of Labor

Maria Lopez '75
First Hispanic woman appointed to Massachusetts Superior Court

Nancy Weiss Malkiel '65
First woman dean of the college at Princeton

Joanne Martin '68
First woman to earn tenure at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business

Elizabeth Stoffregen May '28
First woman member of board of directors of U.S. Export-Import Bank

Victoria Murden McClure '85
First woman to row the Atlantic Ocean alone

Ng’endo Mwangi '61
First woman physician in Kenya

Elizabeth W. Myers '57
First woman ordained an Episcopal priest in Diocese of Central PA

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy '02
First Pakistani to win an Academy Award (Saving Face, 2012)

Farah Pandith '90
First special representative to Muslim communities at the U.S. Department of State

Elizabeth Woodruff Pine '55
First woman to be elected a New York State Justice

Florence Rena Sabin 1893
First woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Eleanor Sanger '50
First woman network television sports producer

Sallie McFague Te Selle '55
First woman dean of an American theological school (Vanderbilt)

Ferdinan B. Nancy Stevenson '49
First woman to serve as lieutenant governor of South Carolina

Laura D’Andrea Tyson '69
First woman to chair White House Council of Economic Advisers

Helen Walbridge 1902
First woman doctor on staff at New York Hospital in Manhattan

Barbara Polk Washburn '35
First woman to climb Mt. McKinley