15 important jobs women have yet to hold in the US

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Hillary Clinton came the closest a woman ever has to shattering the country’s highest glass ceiling.
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Justin Sullivan / Getty

Women have come a long way since they started joining the workforce in large numbers in the late 19th century, and since then there have been many historic firsts.

In law and politics, Annette Adams became the first female US attorney general in 1918. Rebecca Felton was sworn in as the first female US Senator in 1922. And Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Supreme Court Justice in 1981.

In business, Lettie Pate Whitehead became the first woman to serve as a director of a major corporation, Coca-Cola, in 1934. Katharine Graham became the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, The Washington Post, in 1972. And in 1999, Carly Fiorina was the first woman to lead a Dow 30 company, Hewlett-Packard.

There are still more firsts to come.

With the help of Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that promotes inclusive workplaces, and the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, here are important jobs a woman has never held:


President of the United States

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Former Secretary of State and US Senator Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the presidency in 2016.
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Carlos Barria/Reuters

Victoria Claflin Woodhull, a leader of the woman’s suffrage movement, became the first female candidate for president of the United States in 1872. African-American abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass was her running mate.

Since then, several other women have run for US president, including “Surprise Party” candidate Gracie Allen, who ran a satirical campaign in 1940, and most recently Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who lost to President Donald Trump in 2016.

Though the US came close to joining one of the 59 other countries that have had a woman leader, women have yet to shatter the country’s ultimate glass ceiling.


Vice president of the United States

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Sarah Palin unsuccessfully ran for vice president in 2008.
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AP/Susan Walsh

Geraldine Anne Ferraro, a lawyer, Democratic Party politician, and member of the US House of Representatives, became the first female vice-presidential candidate for a major American political party in 1984. Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale selected her to be his running mate in the election against Republican candidate Ronald Reagan; they lost.

Since then, Sarah Palin has been the only female vice presidential candidate of a major party; she lost in 2008 with running mate and Republican presidential candidate John McCain.


Head coach of a major sports team

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Becky Hammon became the first full-time female coach in the NBA in 2014.
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John Locher/AP

In 2014, Becky Hammon became the first full-time female coach in the NBA, as well as the first full-time female coach in any of the four major professional sports in the US, as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.

More women have taken on coaching roles since then, including Nancy Lieberman, who is an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings, and Jennifer Welter, the NFL’s first female coach. But none have ascended to the position of head coach of a major sports team yet.


Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, center, stands with fellow Supreme Court justices.
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REUTERS/Larry Downing

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female justice of the US Supreme Court. Since then, three other women have become justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. No woman has yet ascended the ranks from justice to chief justice.


Director of the FBI or Director of the CIA

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Lisa Monaco with President Obama.
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White House photo/Pete Souza

‪Since its founding in 1908, the FBI has been led by 18 directors, none of which have been women. Similarly, of the 29 directors that have led the CIA and the US Intelligence Community since 1946, all have been men.

Lisa Monaco, who was named President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser in 2013, was said to be on the short list for FBI director as a replacement for Robert S. Mueller that year, but the job went to James B. Comey, the current director.

Another intelligence agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, saw its first female director, Letitia A. Long, take the lead in 2010.


Senate Majority Leader

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Sen. Mitch McConnell is the current Senate Majority Leader.
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REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Of the thousands of people who have served in the US Senate since the US Congress convened in 1789, only 50 have been women. None have yet been elected to serve as the chief Senate spokesperson for their political party by their respective party caucuses.


Catholic clergy

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As the Bishop of Rome, the pope may not be a woman.
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Reuters

In the Catholic Church, only men can receive the sacrament of Holy Orders, through which they become members of the clergy as bishops, priests, or deacons.

Nuns are not members of the clergy, since they do not receive the sacrament of Holy Orders.


Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

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Gen. Ann Dunwoody is the first woman to achieve four-star rank in any service.
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Wikipedia

It may be a while before the US sees a female chairman or member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

To become a member, you must be tapped by the president and approved by the Senate. Members tend to be decorated, four-star officers with combat command experience. There are a few female four-star officers, including Adm. Michelle Howard of the Navy, who commanded the Captain Phillips hostage situation and is the first African-American woman to rise to that rank, and Gen. Ann Dunwoody, the first woman to achieve four-star rank in any service.

Women were barred by the Department of Defense from serving in combat until 2013, and not until 2015 did the department open all combat jobs to women.


Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Treasury, or Secretary of Veterans Affairs

In 1933, Frances Perkins became the first woman to serve as a cabinet member, under Franklin Roosevelt, as the secretary of Labor. Since then, 51 other women have held a cabinet or cabinet-level appointments in US history.

The only cabinet-level positions a woman has yet to hold are secretary of defense, secretary of treasury, and secretary of veterans affairs.


Governor of 23 US states

No woman has ever been a governor of these 23 US states:

California, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine.

In 1925, Nellie Tayloe Ross became the first woman in the US to be elected governor, and since then 36 other women have served as governor.


CEO of a top-5 Fortune 500 company

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In 2014 Mary Barra became CEO of GM, No. 8 on 2016’s Fortune 500 list.
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Bill Pugliano/Getty

Based on total revenues for their respective fiscal years, Fortune magazine ranks the most powerful companies in the US. The top five companies in 2016 were McKesson (No. 5), Berkshire Hathaway (No. 4), Apple (No. 3), Exxon Mobil (No. 2), and Walmart (No. 1), none of which have been run by women.

Coming in at No. 8 on the list, however, is General Motors, which has Mary Barra at the helm.


UN secretary-general

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The late Boutros Boutros-Ghali held the office from 1992 to 1996.
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Thomson Reuters

Since electing its first secretary-general in 1946, the UN has yet to see a woman lead the intergovernmental organization. The UN has had nine secretaries-general, including Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. In the October 2016 secretary-general election, five women – Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, Kristalina Georgieva of Bulgaria, Natalia Gherman of Moldova, Susana Malcorra of Argentina, and Helen Clark of New Zealand – made it to the final straw poll along with five male candidates but ultimately lost the election to the current secretary-general, António Guterres of Portugal.