Timeline:
Women's History

[Voices Home] [Women's History Home] [Research Guide ] [Events Timeline]
[Print Resources] [Online Resources] [For Kids] [For Teacher]

[1600-1700's] [1800's] [1900-1949] [1950-2000]
More Timelines:  [Birthdays] [Monthly Calendar] [Sports] [Towards Suffrage]

1600-1700's

  • 1655  The women's literacy rate in Massachusetts is 50%, 40% in the New Netherlands, and 25% in the Virginia Colonies.
  • 1701  The first sexually integrated jury hears cases in Albany, New York.
  • 1704  The "Cassette Girls" arrive at Mobile on the gulf coast in search of husbands. These 25 young French women were sent on a "bride's" ship carrying small trunks (cassettes) filled with dowry gifts from King Louis XIV. Seeing the primitive conditions in the Louisiana Colony, they refused to marry any of settlers, staging a "petticoat rebellion."
  • 1704  Boston housewife/shopkeeper Sarah Campbell Knight, 38, sets out for New York on in December on horseback to settle a relative's estate. She is the first woman to undertake such a trip on her own; her journal of the trip is published in 1865.
  • 1769  American colonies based their laws on the English common law, which was summarized in the Blackstone Commentaries. It said, “By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in the law? The very being and legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated into that of her husband under whose wing and protection she performs everything.”
  • 1777  All states pass laws which take away women’s right to vote.
  • 1780  Massachusetts adopts a constitution that deprives women of their voting rights.
  • 1780  Three days of horse racing at the track in Hempstead Plains, Long Island, include an event for women riders.
  • 1789  United States Constitution ratified. The terms “persons,” “people” and “electors” are used, allowing the interpretation of those beings to include men and women.

1800's

  • 1805  Sacagawea leads Lewis and Clark to the Pacific coast.

  • 1805  Elizabeth Ann Seton, a future saint, converts to Roman Catholism.
  • 1829  Fanny Wright becomes the first woman in America to give a public lecture and speak out on equal education for girls, birth control, and other issues.
  • 1829  Sarah Moore Grimke, 36, and her sister, Angelina Emily, 24, leave their home in the South and travel North, becoming Quakers and taking strong leadership roles in both the anti-slavery and women's movements.
  • 1830  Robert Dale Owen publishes Moral Physiology, the first birth control essay published in America; he advocates fewer children and better education, as well as arguing that women have the right to decide whether or not they wish to bear children.
  • 1830  Congress makes abortion a statutory crime.
  • 1831  Maria W. Stewart, 28, addresses a crowd in Boston, the first US woman to deliver a political speech to a mixed crowd, on the issue rights for blacks.
  • 1831  The Female Anti-Savery Society of Salem, MA, is formed by free women of color, including Mary A. and Dorothy C. Bates, Charlotte Bell, and Eleanor C. Harvey.
  • 1839  The first state (Mississippi) grants women the right to hold property in their own name, with their husbands’ permission.
  • 1848  At Seneca Falls, New York, 300 women and men sign the Declaration of Sentiments, a plea for the end of discrimination against women in all spheres of society.
  • 1854  Mary Upton Ferrin succeeds in getting the Massachusetts legislature to enact a Married Women's Property Act to protect a woman's property and make her own will.
  • 1854  New Jersey schoolmistress Clara Barton, 33, goes to work in Washington for the US Patent Office as the only female employee of the US government.
  • 1855  In Missouri v. Celia, a Slave, a Black woman is declared to be property without a right to defend herself against a master's act of rape.
  • 1855  The Women's Hospital opens in New York, the world's first medical institution created by women for women's health problems.
  • 1855  Dr. Mary Walker, 22, graduates from Syracuse Medical College.
  • 1855  Elmira Female College opens to become the first US institution to grant academic degrees to women.
  • 1856  Catherine Beecher (1800-78) publishes Physiology and Calisthenics for Schools and Families, the first fitness manual for women.
  • 1856  The University of Iowa, founded at Ames, is open to women and men.
  • 1856  New York seamstresses stage a demonstration on March 8 to demand higher wages and better working conditions.
  • 1856  The New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children open under the direction of doctors Elizabeth Blackwell, Emily Blackwell, 30, and Marie E. Zakrzewska, 27.
  • 1866  The 14th Amendment is passed by Congress (ratified by the states in 1868), saying “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective members, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. . . .But when the right to vote . . .is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State . . . the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in proportion.” It is the first time “citizens” and “voters” are defined as “male” in the Constitution.
  • 1869  The first woman suffrage law in the U.S. is passed in the territory of Wyoming
  • 1869  Britain grants unmarried women who are householders the right to vote in local elections.
  • 1870  The 15th Amendment receives final ratification, saying, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” By its text, women are not specifically excluded from the vote.
  • 1870  The first sexually integrated grand jury hears cases in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The chief justice stops a motion to prohibit the integration of the jury, stating: “It seems to be eminently proper for women to sit upon Grand Juries, which will give them the best possible opportunities to aid in suppressing the dens of infamy which curse the country.”
  • 1873  Bradwell v. Illinois, 83 U.S. 130 (1872): The U.S. Supreme Court rules that a state has the right to exclude a married woman (Myra Colby Bradwell) from practicing law.
  • 1875  Minor v Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1875): The U.S. Supreme Court declares that despite the privileges and immunities clause, a state can prohibit a woman from voting. The court declares women as “persons,” but holds that they constitute a “special category of _nonvoting_ citizens.”
  • 1879  Through special Congressional legislation, Belva Lockwood becomes first woman admitted to try a case before the Supreme Court.
  • 1879  Congress awards lighthouse keeper Ida Lewis the official job seven years after her father's death. She will save the lives of 19 people during her career; the last in 1906.
  • 1879  Radcliffe College has it beginning in classes for women in Cambridge, MA, taught by Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, 51.
  • 1879  Mary Foot Seymour, 33, opened the first US secretarial school for all women students in New York called the Union School of Stenography and Typewriting.
  • 1890  The first state (Wyoming) grants women the right to vote in all elections.
  • 1880  Women account for 32% of all US college undergraduates, up from 21% just 10 years earlier. Women make up 60% of all teachers in US elementary and secomdary schools, up from 25% from before the Civil War.
  • 1880  Miss Martha Carey, 23, becomes the first American woman to receive a Ph.D. in literature. Her undergraduate work was done at Cornell University; her graduate work was overseas because no American university offered advanced degrees to women.
  • 1880  Anna Howard Shaw, 33, wins ordination as a minister in the Methodist Protestant Church
  • 1880  Balloonist Mary Meyers makes her first ascent on July 4 at Little Falls, NY before a crowd of 15,000.
  • 1881  The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is established
  • 1881  Clara Barton founds the American Red Cross.
  • 1881  Harriet Jane Hanson Robinson, a US writer and woman's suffrage leader, organizes a woman's suffrage association in Massachusetts in 1881.
  • 1893  New Zealand grants equal voting rights to women.
  • 1894  The United Kingdom expands women's voting rights to married women in local but not national elections.
  • 1895  South Australian women gain voting rights.
  • 1899  Western Australian women granted voting rights.
[1600-1700's] [1800's] [1900-1949] [1950-2000]
More Timelines:  [Birthdays] [Monthly Calendar] [Sports] [Towards Suffrage]
[Voices Home] [Women's History Home] [Research Guide ] [Events Timeline]
[Print Resources] [Online Resources] [For Kids] [For Teacher]
[ Top ]

1900 - 1949's

  • 1900  By now, every state has passed legislation modeled after New York’s Married Women’s Property Act (1848), granting married women some control over their property and earnings.

  • 1902   Beatrix Potter(1866-1943), children's book illustrator and hill farmer, publishes her first book Peter Rabbit.

  • 1902  Australia gives votes to women.

  • 1903  The Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) is founded in Manchester by Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia.

  • 1903  A secretary, Dorothy Levitt, shocks conventional society when she becomes the first women to take part in a public motor car race.

  • 1903  Marie Curie (1867-1934) is the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. This is for her work on radioactivity and the discovery of radium.

  • 1903  Mary Howarth is the launch editor of the Daily Mirror, a paper aimed specifically at women.

  • 1904  Ida Tarbell publishes her History of the Standard Oil Company, contributing significantly to the breakup of Standard Oil as a monopoly.

  • 1904  Mary McLeod Bethune opens her first school for black students in Daytona Beach, FL

  • 1904  Carrie Chapman Catt becomes the president of the International Women's Suffrage Alliance at a meeting in Berlin.

  • 1904  The electrical engineer and suffragette, Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923) becames the first woman published in Royal Society, the world's oldest scientific academy.

  • 1904  The suffragette Dora Montefiore (1851-1933) refuses to pay her taxes until women are given the vote.

  • 1904  Russian-American seamstress Lane Bryant (nee Lena Himmelstein), 24, opens a New York store to sell maternity clothes, becoming the first merchant to sell ready-to-wear garments for stout and pregnant women.

  • 1904  Helen Kellar, 23, graduates from Radcliffe College magna cum laude, and beings to write about blindness.

  • 1904  The Ladies Home Journal launches an expose of the US patent medicine business.

  • 1904  A New York policeman arrests a woman for smoking cigarettes in public.

  • 1904  Amanda Clement, just 16 years old, becomes the first female umpire to officiate a men's baseball game in Iowa for pay.

  • 1905  Geneticist Nettie Stevens, 44, identifies the X and Y chromosomes, pinpointing their role in determining the sex of an embryo.

  • 1905  Baroness Bertha von Suttner, who initiated the Nobel Peace Prize, is the first person to win it.

  • 1906  The term "suffragette" is used for the first time, by the Daily Mail. It was intended as a derogatory name for women in the WSPU.

  • 1906  Finland is the first country in Europe to give votes to women.

  • 1907  Women in Norway are permitted to stand for election.

  • 1907  Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) is awarded the Order of Merit.

  • 1908  Muller v State of Oregon, 208 U.S. 412 (1908): The U.S. Supreme Court upholds Oregon’s 10-hour workday for women. The win is a two-edged sword: the protective legislation implies that women are physically weak.

  • 1908  The parachute stunt artist Dolly Shepherd (1887-1983) successfully attempts the first mid-air rescue.

  • 1908  Women in Denmark some women granted local voting rights.

  • 1908  Victoria, Australia, grants women voting rights.

  • 1909  Sweden grants vote in municipal elections to all women.

  • 1909  Frenchwoman, Madame La Baronne de la Roche becomes the first fully qualified woman pilot.

  • 1911  Marie Curie is awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry making her the first person to receive the Nobel Prize twice.

  • 1912  The American pilot Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to fly the English Channel.

  • 1913  In Norway, women win the right to vote.

  • 1915  Fifteen hundred women from Northern Europe and the USA meet to discuss peace at the first International Congress of Women in The Hague. The American suffrage campaigner, Jane Addams (1860-1935) is its first president.

  • 1916  Margaret Sanger tests the validity of New York’s anti-contraception law by establishing a clinic in Brooklyn.

  • 1917  Alexandra Kollantai (1872-1952) is appointed to Lenin's Bolshevik government as the People's Commissioner for Public Welfare, making her the first woman minister in the world.

  • 1917  Russia gives votes to women.

  • 1918  New York v. Sanger, 222 NY 192, 118 N.E. 637 (Court of Appeals 1917), National Archives, Records of the U.S. Supreme Court, RG 267 (MSDME-CDS C 15:298). Margaret Sanger wins her suit in New York to allow doctors to advise their married patients about birth control for health purposes.

  • 1918  Women in Britain vote in a General Election for the first time on 14 December. Constance Markiewicz (1868-1927) is elected as the first woman MP for Sinn Fein although she declined to take her seat.

  • 1918  Germany gives votes to women.

  • 1918  Austria adopts woman suffrage.

  • 1919  Elaine Burton is the first woman to race in shorts at the English Northern Counties Athletic Champions.

  • 1919  French tennis player Suzanne Lenglen (1899-1938) wins Wimbledon for the first time. She shocks the world by insisting on playing in a short dress.

  • 1919  Netherlands gives women the vote.

  • 1919  Woman suffrage is granted in Belarus, Luxemburg and Ukraine.

  • 1919  Women in Belgium granted right to vote.

  • 1919  New Zealand allows women to stand for election.

  • 1920  The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified. It declares: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

  • 1920  Woman suffrage is granted in Albania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

  • 1921  Sweden gives women voting rights with some restrictions.

  • 1921  The American novelist Edith Wharton (1861-1937) is the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Age of Innocence.

  • 1923  National Woman’s Party proposes Constitutional amendment: “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and in every place subject to its jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

  • 1924  Radice v. New York, a New York state case, upholds a law that forbade waitresses from working the night shift but made an exception for entertainers and ladies' room attendants.

  • 1925  American Indian suffrage granted by act of Congress.

  • 1929  Dorothy Wood Eustis, 43, founds the Seeing Eye, and trains guide dogs for the blind.

  • 1929  Tuskegee Institute in Alabama forms one of the first women's college track teams, offering scholarships to promising women athletes, and adding women's event to their Tuskegee relays track meets.

  • 1929  The Ninety-Nines, a club for women pilots, forms with Amelia Earhart as the first president. The name comes from the number of pilots who join out of the 126 licensed women pilots.

  • 1930  Amelia Earhart flies her Lockheed Vega at 171 mph, setting a new women's air speed record.

  • 1930  Texan Jesse Daniel Ames organizes the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching (ASWPL) in order put an end to mob violence committed in the name of southern women.

  • 1930   Miss Ellen Church, 25, becomes the first female steward on an airline flight.

  • 1930  Ruth Nichols sets a transcontinental speed record of 13 hours and 21 minutes, beating the record set by Charles Lindbergh.

  • 1930  Anne Morrow Lindbergh is the first woman to earn a glider pilot's license.

  • 1930  On April 20, Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh set a transcontinental speed record, flying from Los Angeles to New York in 14 hours, 45 minutes. Anne was 7 months pregnant at the time.

  • 1930  Turkey grants women the vote.
  • 1931  Women get full suffrage in Spain and Sri Lanka
  • 1931   Jane Addams, 71, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the first woman ever honored by the Nobel Committee, for her work on behalf of world peace.
  • 1931   Lillian Gilbreth is awarded the first Gilbreth Medal by the Society of Industrial Engineers for her work in motion studies.
  • 1931  Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney becomes the first woman to found a major art museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
  • 1931  Medical researcher Florence Seibert, 34, and her colleagues isolate the active tuberbulin protein after 8 years of research.
  • 1931  Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis bans women from professional baseball (the bans lasts until 1992), after 17-year-old pitcher Virne Beatrice "Jackie" Mitchell strikes out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game for the Chattanooga Lookouts. Landis voids Mitchell's contract, saying baseball is "too strenuous" for women.
  • 1932  The National Recovery Act forbids more than one family member from holding a government job, resulting in many women losing their jobs.
  • 1932  On 20 May Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo in a 15 hour flight.
  • 1933  Sheila Borrett becomes the first woman radio announcer.
  • 1934  Cuba and Brazil adopt woman suffrage.
  • 1936  United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries, 13 F. Supp.334 (E.D.N.Y 1936) aff’d 86 F 2d 737 (2nd Cir. 1936), won judicial approval of medicinal use of birth control.
  • 1936  Elizabeth Cowell becomes the first woman television announcer.
  • 1937  The U.S. Supreme Court upholds Washington state’s minimum wage laws for women.
  • 1937  The Philippines grants women full suffrage.
  • 1938  The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum wage without regard to sex.
  • 1939  El Salvador grants voting rights to women.
  • 1941  Panama grants limited voting rights to women.
  • 1942  Women gain full suffrage in the Dominican Republic.
  • 1944  Bulgaria, France and Jamaica grant suffrage to women.
  • 1947  Fay v. New York, 332 U.S. 261 (1947), the U.S. Supreme Court says women are equally qualified with men to serve on juries but are granted an exemption and may serve or not as women choose.
  • 1947  The Diary of Anne Frank is first published in the Netherlands.
  • 1947  Japan extends suffrage, but still retains some restrictions.
  • 1947  Mexico grants the vote to women at the municipal level.
  • 1948  Israel, Iraq, Korea, Niger and Surinam adopt woman suffrage.
  • 1948  Belgium, which previously granted the vote to women, establishes suffrage with a few restrictions for women.
  • 1948  Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) plays a key role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • 1949  Bosnia and Herzegovina grant woman suffrage.
  • 1949  China and Costa Rica give women the vote.
  • 1949  Women gain full suffrage in Chile but most vote separately from men.
  • 1949  Syrian Arab Republic gives the vote to women.
[1600-1700's] [1800's] [1900-1949] [1950-2000]
More Timelines:  [Birthdays] [Monthly Calendar] [Sports] [Towards Suffrage]
[Voices Home] [Women's History Home] [Research Guide ] [Events Timeline]
[Print Resources] [Online Resources] [For Kids] [For Teacher]
[ Top ]

1950-2000

  • 1950  India gives votes to women.
  • 1950  Canada grants full suffrage, extending the vote to some women (and men) previously not included.
  • 1951  The American photographer Eve Arnold is the first woman to work for the celebrated Magnum photographic agency.
  • 1952  Molecular biologist Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) takes up her post at King's College and becomes key in the discovery of DNA.
  • 1953  American aviator Jacqueline Cochrane (1910 - 1980) is the first woman to break the sound barrier.
  • 1953  Mexico grants women the right to stand for election. and to vote in national elections.
  • 1954  Aviator Jacqueline Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier piloting a Sabre jet.
  • 1955  Marian Anderson is the first African American woman to sing at the Metropolitan Opera.
  • 1955  Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, AL, bus. She was arrested and within three days a massive boycott was in place by blacks against the bus company.
  • 1955  Mrs. Sheila Robbins becomes the first woman cantor at the Massapequa, LI, Reformed Jewish temple.
  • 1955  "Ann Landers Says" is introduced in the Chicago Sun Times.
  • 1955  Thirteen women form the Whirly Girls, the first female association of helicopter pilots.
  • 1955  Explorer Louise Boyd, 67, becomes the first woman to fly over the North Pole.
  • 1955  The first LPGA championship is held.
  • 1956  Josephine Perfect Bay becomes the first woman to head a member firm of the New York Stock Exchange. She was the president of the A. M. Kidder & Company.
  • 1956  The La Leche League is formed, devoted to promoting breastfeeding.
  • 1956  Reverend Margaret Towner is the first woman ordained a minister in the Presbyterian Church.
  • 1956  Prof. Cecilia Payne-Gaposhkin becomes the first woman tenured professor at Harvard.
  • 1960  Canadian women win full rights to stand for election.
  • 1961  In Hoyt v. Florida, 368 U.S. 57 (1961): The U.S. Supreme Court upholds rules adopted by the state of Florida that made it far less likely for women than men to be called for jury service on the grounds that a “woman is still regarded as the center of home and family life.”
  • 1963  The Equal Pay Act is passed by Congress, promising equitable wages for the same work, regardless of the race, color, religion, national origin or sex of the worker.
  • 1964  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act passes including a prohibition against employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.
  • 1965  Weeks v. Southern Bell, 408 F. 2d. 228 (5th Cir. 1969), marks a major triumph in the fight against restrictive labor laws and company regulations on the hours and conditions of women's work, opening many previously male-only jobs to women.
  • 1965  In Griswold v Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), the Supreme Court overturns one of the last state laws prohibiting the prescription or use of contraceptives by married couples.
  • 1966  In the USA, the National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded by Betty Friedan and other feminists to campaign for equal rights. This is still the most powerful women's lobbying group in the USA.
  • 1966  Indira Ghandi becomes the first woman Prime Minister of India.
  • 1968  Executive Order 11246 prohibits sex discrimination by government contractors and requires affirmative action plans for hiring women.
  • 1969  In Bowe v. Colgate-Palmolive Company, 416 F. 2d 711 (7th Cir.1969), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rules that women meeting the physical requirements can work in many jobs that had been for men only.
  • 1969  California adopts the nation’s first “no fault” divorce law, allowing divorce by mutual consent.
  • 1969  Golda Meir (1898-1978) becomes Israel 's first woman Prime Minister.
  • 1971  Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corporation, 400 U.S. 542 (1971): The U.S. Supreme Court outlaws the practice of private employers refusing to hire women with pre-school children.
  • 1971  Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71 (1971): The U.S. Supreme Court holds unconstitutional a state law (Idaho) establishing automatic preference for males as administrators of wills. This is the first time the court strikes down a law treating men and women differently. The Court finally declares women as “persons,” but uses a “reasonableness” test rather than making sex a “suspect classification,” analogous to race, under the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • 1971  The USA passes a law banning sex discrimination in employment.
  • 1971  Switzerland adopts woman suffrage.
  • 1971  The United States lowers the voting age for both men and women to eighteen.
  • 1972  Title IX (Public Law 92-318) of the Education Amendments prohibits sex discrimination in all aspects of education programs that receive federal support.
  • 1972  In Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972), the Supreme Court rules that the right to privacy encompasses an unmarried person's right to use contraceptives.
  • 1972  American feminist Gloria Steinem (born 1934) launches Ms Magazine.
  • 1973  Pittsburgh Press v. Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, 413 U.S. 376 (1973): The U.S. Supreme Court bans sex-segregated “help wanted” advertising as a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended.
  • 1973  Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) and Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973): The U.S. Supreme Court declares that the Constitution protects women’s right to terminate an early pregnancy, thus making abortion legal in the U.S.
  • 1973  American tennis star Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon Men's Champion, in a much-publicised match in Houston.
  • 1974  Housing discrimination on the basis of sex and credit discrimination against women are outlawed by Congress.
  • 1974  Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632 (1974), determines it is illegal to force pregnant women to take maternity leave on the assumption they are incapable of working in their physical condition.
  • 1974  The Women’s Educational Equity Act, drafted by Arlene Horowitz and introduced by Representative Patsy Mink (D-HI), funds the development of nonsexist teaching materials and model programs that encourage full educational opportunities for girls and women.
  • 1974  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Justice and Labor Departments, and AT&T sign a consent decree banning AT&T’s discriminatory practices against women and minorities.
  • 1975  Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522 (1975), denies states the right to exclude women from juries.
  • 1976  General Elec. Co v. Gilbert, 429 U. S. 125 (1976), the Supreme Court upholds women’s right to unemployment benefits during the last three months of pregnancy.
  • 1976  Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190 (1976): The U.S. Supreme Court declares unconstitutional a state law permitting 18 to 20-year-old females to drink beer while denying the rights to men of the same age. The Court establishes new set of standards for reviewing laws that treat men and women differently—an “intermediate” test stricter than the “reasonableness” test for constitutionality in sex discrimination cases.
  • 1978  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act bans employment discrimination against pregnant women.
  • 1979  The Susan B. Anthony dollar starts circulating.
  • 1979  Chicago elects its first woman mayor, Jane Byrne, with 82% of the vote.
  • 1979   A federal law takes effect prohibiting employers from discriminating against pregnant workers.
  • 1979  Patricia Harris, 55, is sworn in as the US Secretary of Health and Human Services.
  • 1979  Jimmy Carter names federal judge Shirley Hufstedler as the nation's first Secretary of Education.
  • 1979  Bethune Museum and Archives is established in Washington DC as center for African American women's history in honro of educator Mary McLeod Bethune.
  • 1979  Dr. Sylvia Earle becomes the first person in the world to dive to a depth of 1,250 feet.
  • 1980  Linda Eaton, 27, Iowa City's first woman firefighter, is awarded $28,400 in damages after a legal battle over her right to breastfeed her baby at the firehouse.
  • 1980  In June, Vigdis Finnbogadottir is the first woman to be democratically elected as head-of-state when she becomes President of Iceland.
  • 1980  The AFL-CIO votes to reserve two seats on its 35 member executive team for a woman and a member of a minority group.
  • 1980  Shirley Hufstedler, a former federal judge, becomes the first U.S. Secretary of Education.
  • 1980  The Women's Sports Foundation establishes the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame.
  • 1980  The Reverend Marjorie S. Matthew is elected as a bishop of the United Methodist Church, becoming the nation's first woman to sit on the governing body of a major religious denomination.
  • 1981  The U.S. Supreme Court rules that excluding women from the draft is constitutional.
  • 1981  Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455, 459-60 (1981), overturns state laws designating a husband “head and master” with unilateral control of property owned jointly with his wife.
  • 1981  Sandra Day O'Connor is appointed to the US Supreme Court as the first woman Associate Justice by Ronald Reagan.
  • 1981  President Reagan names Jeane Duane Kirkpatrick, 54, as permanent US representative to the United Nations.
  • 1981  Wyoming elects Harriet Elizabeth Byrd, 55, to the state House fo Representatives, where she becomes the first black legislator elected since statehood in 1890.
  • 1981  Betty Ellis becomes the first woman to officiate at a professional soccer match.
  • 1981  At the request of women's organizations, President Carter proclaims the first "National Women's History Week," incorporating March 8, International Women's Day.
  • 1982  Wisconsin became the first state in the nation to pass a law that prohibited discrimination against homosexuals in all areas regulated by the state.
  • 1983  Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel in space.
  • 1984  In Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609 (1984), sex discrimination in membership policies of organizations, such as the Jaycees, is forbidden by the Supreme Court, opening many previously all-male organizations (Jaycees, Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions) to women.
  • 1984  The state of Mississippi belatedly ratifies the 19th Amendment, granting women the vote.
  • 1984  Hishon v. King and Spaulding, 467 U.S. 69 (1984): The U.S. Supreme Court rules that law firms may not discriminate on the basis of sex in promoting lawyers to partnership positions.
  • 1984  Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman in American history to be chosen as the nominee for Vice President on a major party ticket.
  • 1986  In Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a hostile or abusive work environment can prove discrimination based on sex.
  • 1987  Johnson v. Santa Clara County, 480 U.S. 616 (1987): The U.S. Supreme Court rules that it is permissible to take sex and race into account in employment decisions even where there is no proven history of discrimination but when evidence of a manifest imbalance exists in the number of women or minorities holding the position in question.
  • 1989  In Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 (1989), the Supreme Court affirms the right of states to deny public funding for abortions and to prohibit public hospitals from performing abortions.
  • 1989  Over 600,000 marchers demonstrated for women's reproductive rights in Washington, D.C.
  • 1992  Congress passed a Family Medical Leave bill which would grant workers up to 12 weeks a year of unpaid leave to obtain medical treatment for themselves or to care for a newborn, sick children, ill spouses or elderly parents.
  • 1993  Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., 510 U.S. 17 (1993) The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the victim did not need to show that she suffered physical or serious psychological injury as a result of sexual harassment.
  • 1993  The Family and Medical Leave Act goes into effect.
  • 1994 Congress adopts the Gender Equity in Education Act to train teachers in gender equity, promote math and science learning by girls, counsel pregnant teens, and prevent sexual harassment.
  • 1994  The Violence Against Women Act funds services for victims of rape and domestic violence, allows women to seek civil rights remedies for gender-related crimes, provides training to increase police and court officials’ sensitivity and a national 24-hour hotline for battered women.
  • 1994: Black women gain full suffrage in South Africa.
  • 1996 United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996), affirms that the male-only admissions policy of the state-supported Virginia Military Institute violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • 1997 Elaborating on Title IX, the Supreme Court rules that college athletics programs must actively involve roughly equal numbers of men and women to qualify for federal support.
  • 1998 Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America agrees to pay $34 million to settle an E.E.O.C. lawsuit contending that hundreds of women were sexually harassed.
  • 1998 Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742 (1998) and Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 742 (1998): The Supreme Court balances employee and employer rights. It rules that employers are liable for sexual harassment even in instances when a supervisor’s threats are not carried out. But the employer can defend itself by showing that it took steps to prevent or promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior and the employee did not take advantage of available opportunities to stop the behavior or complain of the behavior.
  • 2000 CBS Broadcasting agrees to pay $8 million to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit by the E.E.O.C. on behalf of 200 women.
  • 2000 United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000). The U.S. Supreme Court invalidates those portions of the Violence Against Women Act permitting victims of rape, domestic violence, etc. to sue their attackers in federal court.
[1600-1700's] [1800's] [1900-1949] [1950-2000]
More Timelines:  [Birthdays] [Monthly Calendar] [Sports] [Towards Suffrage]
[Voices Home] [Women's History Home] [Research Guide ] [Events Timeline]
[Print Resources] [Online Resources] [For Kids] [For Teacher]
[ Top ]