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A Look at Women’s “1sts” – Viking Call

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A Look at Women’s “1sts”

In March of 1987, Congress passed a bill recognizing the success and achievements of women by declaring this month Women’s History Month. The progress made in recent decades toward the success of women in this country and around the world has been staggering, but it’s worth looking back on two of the women who were the “firsts” of their respective occupations, goals, and struggles, and to look at how far society has come toward equality and inclusion in jobs such as science and television.

Wallace Funk: First woman to go through astronaut testing

Born in Las Vegas, Funk from a very young age started pursuing her career as an aviation specialist. She had always been interested in planes and had a knack for mechanics and the mechanical engineering of aircrafts.

After studying at Stephens College, she began work as an aviator at Fort Oklahoma before becoming the first woman flight inspector for the FAA. Though she was denied applications to become a pilot (mainly due to her sex) this did not halt her climb, and by the 1990s, NASA began accepting women pilots. Funk had gone through NASA’s physical space tests and scored better than many of her male counterparts; inspiring Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot a shuttle, and working with her at the Kennedy Space Center. She is now 84 years old.

Famous Female Firsts: 79 Trailblazing Women Who Made History. (2023, March 8). Reader’s Digest. https://www.rd.com/list/female-firsts/

Betty White: First woman to win an Emmy for being a gameshow host

Known mostly for her participation as an actress in shows like ‘The Golden Girls’ and ‘Life of Elizabeth’ , Betty White also made a name for herself after being the first woman to win a Daytime Emmy for her participation on NBC’s ‘Just Men!’ As of 2018, Betty White also has been characterized by the Guiness Book of World records as having the longest television career of any woman, lasting for almost 80 years. 

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Betty White grew up with her mother and father around the radio industry. She began her work as a radio commercialist and television production worker until 1953, when she got her first gig on ‘The Betty White Show.’ Betty White unfortunately passed away in December of 2021 in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 99 years old. However, her achievements will not be forgotten, and her memory and inspiration towards other young actresses and women on television will live on. 

Famous Female Firsts: 79 Trailblazing Women Who Made History. (2023, March 8). Reader’s Digest. https://www.rd.com/list/female-firsts/

It is difficult to understate how women such as Funk and White have influenced occupations in our present times. They have become symbols of the accomplishments women have made in entertainment and STEM, even as those fields evolve. But the revolutions made in those occupations can only be attributed to the revolutions in acceptance and inclusion of women in popular society.

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