United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 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.


American geophysicist Claudia Alexander oversaw the final stages of Project Galileo, a space exploration mission that ended at the planet Jupiter.


American biologist Linda B. Buck received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Richard Axel “for their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system”.


Congress passes the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the first law to ban a specific abortion procedure. The Supreme Court upholds the ban the following year.

Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education 544 U.S. 167. The Supreme Court rules that Title IX prohibits punishing someone for complaining about sex-based discrimination.

Hillary Clinton becomes the first First Lady to be elected to public office as a U.S. Senator from New York. Condoleezza Rice becomes the first black female Secretary of State.

Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The 2005 reauthorization allocates federal funds to aid victims, provides housing to prevent victims from becoming homeless, ensures victims have access to the justice system, and  created intervention programs to assist children who witnessed domestic violence and to those at risk of domestic violence.


Chinese-American biochemist Yizhi Jane Tao led a team of researchers to become the first to map the atomic structure of Influenza A, contributing to antiviral research.

Parasitologist Susan Lim became the first Malaysian scientist elected to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.

Merieme Chadid became the first Moroccan and the first female astronomer to travel to Antarctica, leading an international team of scientists in the installation of a major observatory in the South Pole.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf becomes President of Liberia, and thus Africa’s first elected female head of state.


Physicist Ibtesam Badhrees was the first Saudi Arabian woman to become a member of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Nancy Pelosi becomes the first female speaker of the House.


Alaska Governor Sarah Palin becomes the first woman to run for vice president on the Republican ticket. Hillary Clinton loses the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.

Hillary Clinton is the only First Lady to run for president.

French virologist Francoise Barre-Sinoussi received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, shared with Harald zur Hausen and Luc Montagnier, “for their discovery of HIV, human immunodeficiency virus”.

American-born Australian Penny Sackett becomes Australia’s first female Chief Scientist.


The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act allows victims, usually women, of pay discrimination to file a complaint with the government against their employer within 180 days of their last paycheck.

Sonia Sotomayor is nominated as the 111th U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Sotomayor becomes the first Hispanic American and the third woman to serve.

American molecular biologist Carol W. Greider received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak “for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase”.

Israeli crystallographer Ada E. Yonath, along with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome”.

Chinese geneticist Zeng Fanyi and her research team published their experiment results proving that induced pluripotent stem cells can be used to generate whole mammalian bodies – in this case, live mice.


Marcia McNutt became the first female director of the United States Geological Survey.

The Affordable Health Care Act is signed into law. Under this law, private health insurance companies must provide birth control without co- pays or deductibles. The law requires private insurance companies to cover preventive services.


Taiwanese-American astrophysicist Chung- Pei Ma led a team of scientists in discovering two of the largest black holes ever observed.


Clara Lazen, then a fifth grader, discovered the molecule tetranitratoxycarbon.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, meant to fight gender discrimination in the workplace, fails in the Senate on a party-line vote. Two years later, Republicans filibuster the bill (twice).


The ban against women in military combat positions is removed, overturning a 1994 Pentagon decision restricting women from combat roles.

Canadian genetic specialist Turi King identified the 500-year-old skeletal remains of King Richard III.

Kenyan ichthyologist Dorothy Wanja Nyingi published the first guide to freshwater fish species of Kenya.


Norwegian psychologist and neuroscientist May-Britt Moser received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, shared with Edvard Moser and John O’Keefe, “for their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain”.

American paleoclimatologist and marine geologist Maureen Raymo became the first woman to be awarded the Wollaston Medal, the highest award of the Geological Society of London.

American theoretical physicist Shirley Anne Jackson was awarded the National Medal of Science. Jackson had been the first African- American woman to receive a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during the early 1970s, and the first woman to chair the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


Chinese medical scientist Tu Youyou received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, shared with William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura; she received it “for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria”.

Asha de Vos became the first Sri Lankan person to receive a PhD in marine mammal research, completing her thesis on “Factors influencing blue whale aggregations off southern Sri Lanka” at the University of Western Australia.


Marcia McNutt became the first woman president of the American National Academy of Sciences.

Hillary Rodham Clinton secures the Democratic presidential nomination, becoming the first U.S. woman to lead the ticket of a major party. She loses to Republican Donald Trump in the fall.

The Supreme Court strikes down onerous abortion clinic regulations that were forcing women’s clinics to close.


Congress has a record number of women, with 104 female House members and 21 female Senators, including the chamber’s first Latina, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

Johns Hopkins accepts Nancy Abu-Bonsrah as their first black female Neurosurgery resident


British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell received the special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her scientific achievements and “inspiring leadership”, worth $3 million. She donated the entirety of the prize money towards the creation of scholarships to assist women, underrepresented minorities and refugees who are pursuing the study of

Canadian physicist Donna Strickland received the Nobel Prize in Physics “for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics”; she shared it with Arthur Ashkin and Gérard Mourou

For the first time in history, women received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the Nobel Prize in Physics in the same year.