Trailblazing Female Firsts In Male-Dominated Industries

In 2011, Beyoncé uttered the words ‘Who Run the World? Girls!’ as a battle cry for women everywhere to continue smashing glass ceilings. While equal pay continues to remain an issue and workplace discrimination is still rife, women (and men) have begun speaking up about sexism and the inequality that is faced on a day-to-day basis. As a result, we have seen women breaking barriers and thriving in industries that would otherwise be dominated by men. With this in mind, here are three influential women who have taken one small step in employment and one giant leap for womankind.

Mary Barra

In 2014, Mary Barra took over as CEO and Chair of General Motors and became the first woman in charge of an automobile manufacturer. Fast forward to 2019, and she was named the second most powerful woman by Fortune. Indeed, cars are generally considered the domain of men, but challenges faced by the manufacturer – the US/China trade war, growth of electric vehicles, and longest strike in 50 years – are easily taken in Barra’s stride. Barra’s success comes from the strong relationships she has built with colleagues and employees, and by understanding others and learning about them and their families.

Christina Koch & Jessica Meir

Space may be the final frontier, but ensuring gender equality across the board is still one we have to contend with down on earth. Only 18% of aerospace engineers are female, and it is obvious the industry still has some room to grow – such as space suits being deemed too big for an all-female spacewalk in early 2019. But Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history in late 2019 when they performed the first all-female spacewalk. Despite mankind being active in space since 1965, and the first female spacewalk being undertaken by Svetlana Savitskaya in 1984, it has taken all this time for an all-female crew to conduct the same mission.

Ursula von der Leyen

It’s amazing how many significant political roles worldwide are seeing female firsts as late as the 2010s, but 2019 gave us two in Europe: Jo Swinson became the first female leader of the Liberal Democrat Party and Ursula von der Leyen became the first female President of the European Commission. Her approach to the job was to create a united front to tackle mutual problems and end the infighting that occurred in the European Parliament. The job isn’t for the faint-hearted and von der Leyen’s experience in politics since the 1990s shows she is best placed for the role. News outlets seemed more interested in von der Leyen being the first German to hold the position in 50 years than the first woman, which shows just how much change there is to come.

It seems the underestimation of women is beginning to fade. Women are being recognized as being masters of their own lives and the lives of others; from the world of business to governing political bodies, the broad scope of female power is one to be respected. The power of one’s gut emotions is to be trusted wholeheartedly, and it seems that centuries of oppression and being outcast from these industries has only resulted in women learning to love themselves, respect each other, and overcome these boundaries. The influence that these powerful women find themselves holding today wouldn’t be possible without this inner strength.

The worlds of heavy industry, business, science, and politics have been frequented by men to too much of a skewed degree. The states of each industry show that having so much male control isn’t necessarily good – and perhaps a female leader would help take the industry in a new direction. As more women are rising to the top and smashing glass ceilings, this leads the way to others following them and younger women knowing that they too can succeed in the same way, and knowing that, they too, can become beacons for future generations.

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