50 Women Who Broke New Ground in 2021   

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1Public Service Standouts

Vice President Kamala Harris is the first woman and first Black and South Asian American to hold the vice presidency. In November, Harris also briefly served as acting president while President Biden underwent surgery.

Many other women broke ground in careers serving the country in 2021, including Janet Yellen, the first woman to be secretary of the treasury; Avril Haines, the first woman director of national intelligence; and Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve in the president’s Cabinet as secretary of the interior. Gina McCarthy became the U.S.’ first national climate advisor.

Sarah McBride became the first openly transgender state senator in the country, serving Delaware; and Rachel Levine, assistant secretary to Department of Health and Human Services, is the first openly transgender federal official.

Kathy Hochul became the first woman governor of New York in August. Winsome Sears is the first woman elected to be lieutenant governor in Virginia and the first woman of color to hold a statewide office in the Commonwealth. Michelle Wu is the first woman and person of color to be mayor of Boston. Shaina Coss was the first woman to lead elite Army Rangers in combat, and Joann Diaz is the New York City Fire Department’s first Latina fire lieutenant.

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Julia Travers

Julia Travers is a writer who often covers social and cultural topics. Find her at NPR, Art News, YES! Magazine and other outlets. See Full Bio

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