WOMEN
11/04/2014 12:00 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017
PRESENTED BY STATE OF AFFAIRS ON NBC

10 Female Firsts In High Positions Of Power

Unless you live under a rock and have never heard the answer to Beyonce’s infamous, “Who run the world?!” question, we’ll tip you off to a little secret: The answer is “girls.”

To prove it, we’ve partnered with NBC’s new, high-octane thriller State of Affairs to shine a spotlight on singular achievements of the most remarkable women in the world.

You can catch Katherine Heigl starring as the top advisor to the President of the United States starting Monday, November 17 at 10:00/9:00c on NBC.

Sally Ride
First American To Fly In Space

sally ride
Dr. Sally Ride beat out 1,000 other applicants to earn a spot in NASA’s astronaut program after graduating (with a Ph.D.) from Stanford University. Ride flew into orbit on June 18, 1983 aboard the space shuttle Challenger, becoming the first American woman in space at 32. She later lost her life to pancreatic cancer in 2012, but her legacy lives on via Sally Ride Science, an educational company that inspires girls and young women to pursue interests in science and math.

Aretha Franklin
First Inducted Into Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

aretha franklin
After starting her singing career as a child at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit where her father was a preacher, Aretha Franklin went on to become an 18-time Grammy winner. Showing some well-earned R-E-S-P-E-C-T, music industry leaders recognized Franklin’s vocal legacy in 1987, inducting her into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, making her the first female honoree, ever.

Benazir Bhutto
First To Head A Muslim State

benazir bhutto first female prime minister
Proof that a Harvard education pays off, Benazir Bhutto became the 11th prime minister of Pakistan, elected during the 1988 free elections. At 35, she was the first woman to serve as prime minister of Pakistan, and of any Muslim nation. Unfortunately, Bhutto was assassinated in a 2007 suicide attack -- but not before ending military dictatorship in Pakistan and serving as a prominent leader in women’s rights advocacy.

Madeleine Albright
First Secretary of State

madeleine albright
When Madeleine Albright was sworn in as the 64th U.S. Secretary of State in January of 1997, she not only became the first female to do so -- she also became the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. government at the time. Although she left her position in 2001 to pursue other projects, Albright is still making headlines -- most recently for her face being placed on a commemorative Wheaties box.

Oprah Winfrey
First African-American Billionaire

oprah winfrey
Our favorite car-gifting talk show host went from a popular TV personality in Chicago (earning $230,000 a year), to a media property owner, producer, actress and philanthropist with a net worth of over $340 million. Oprah Winfrey’s billionaire status was first announced in 2003 by Forbes.

Condoleezza Rice
First African-American Secretary Of State

condoleezza rice
Graduating college before the age of 20 gives you a head start on accomplishing great things...like becoming the Secretary of State of the United States, for example! Or at least, this was the case for Condoleezza Rice, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Denver at just 19. In 2004, Rice was nominated for Secretary of State by George W. Bush. She took office in January of 2005, becoming the first African-American woman to serve in the position.

Kathryn Bigelow
First To Win The Academy Award for Best Director

kathryn bigelow academy award
In a timespan of over 80 years, just four women were nominated for best director for an Academy Award. However, only Kathryn Bigelow was able to take home the Oscar for her low-budget Iraq war film, The Hurt Locker, at the 82nd Academy Awards. Bigelow became the first female director in history to win the honor, and even refused to gloat about her triumph over former husband, James Cameron (though we’re not afraid to say it: girls rule, boys drool).

Lydia Nsekera
First FIFA Executive Committee Member

lydia nsekera
Remember when the World Cup was playing this summer and everyone in your office got to stop working for two hours and watch, because the once-every-four-years tournament is a big freakin’ deal?! Yeah, you do. Also a big deal is Lydia Nsekera’s election into FIFA’s Executive Committee this May. As the first woman to secure a seat in the football world’s governing body, Nsekera told reporters: "I am very happy to be the first woman elected. It is important for Africa, it is important for Burundi, it is important for women.

Sara Blakely
First Billionaire To Join The Giving Pledge

sara blakely
Sara Blakely built her Spanx brand (slimming undergarments for women) with just $5,000 in savings and no professional experience in retail or manufacturing. Yet her business grew so much that she became the youngest woman in the world to be featured on Forbes’ Billionaires list at 42. In 2013, she made another ‘first’ in history by joining the Giving Pledge, which is Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s bid to encourage the world’s wealthiest to give back -- meaning at least half of Blakely’s fortune will be donated to charity.

Admiral Michelle Howard
First Four Star Admiral In The Navy

admiral michelle howard
When Michelle Howard was promoted to a four-star admiral earlier this year, she wasn’t just the first woman to receive the title -- she was also the first African-American. Previously, the now Vice Chief of Naval Operations (the No. 2 officer in the service) served as a three-star officer in the U.S. military and commander of a U.S. Navy Ship. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Admiral Howard’s promotion represents, “how far we have come, and how far she has helped bring us.”

First President?!
TBA

ready for hillary
Some Democrats may be, ‘Ready for Hillary,’ but the real question is: is she? And more importantly, is the world? We may be two years away from the next presidential election, but that won’t stop us from furiously debating when Hillary Clinton will announce whether or not she’s running in 2016 -- the first steps toward potentially becoming the first female president in the U.S. If she chooses not to run, perhaps one of these qualified female Senators will step up to the plate to make American history.

NBC’s State of Affairs airs November 17. Watch the trailer here:

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