15 important jobs women have never held

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • Women have held many roles that were previously reserved for men.
  • But there are still more firsts to accomplish.
  • From US president to CEO of a top-5 Fortune 500 company, here are 15 important jobs a woman has never held.

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:


A woman has never been the President of the United States

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Victoria Claflin Woodhull.
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Wikimedia Commons

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 current Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.


Former Secretary of State and US Senator Hillary Clinton came close when she won the popular vote but lost the presidency in 2016

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Hillary Clinton.
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Thomson Reuters

Since 1782, 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.


A woman has never been the vice president of the United States

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.


Sarah Palin unsuccessfully ran for vice president in 2008

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Sarah Palin.
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Getty Images/Alex Wong

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


A woman has never been the head coach of a major sports team

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.


Though there have been several female assistant coaches

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Jennifer Welter.
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Christian Petersen/Getty Images

More women have taken on coaching roles since 2014, including Nancy Lieberman, who is an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings, and Jennifer Welter, who became the NFL’s first female coach when she joined the Arizona Cardinals as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason.

But none have ascended to the position of head coach of a major sports team yet.


A woman has never been the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female justice of the US Supreme Court.


Though there are three female Supreme Court justices currently

Since then, three other women have become Supreme Court justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

No woman has yet ascended the ranks from justice to chief justice.


A woman has never been the Director of the FBI

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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 whom have been women.

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 ultimately went to James B. Comey at the time. Comey’s appointment was was followed by then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe and current FBI director Christopher Wray.


But a woman is now in charge of the CIA

Until very recently, all of the directors that led the CIA and the US Intelligence Community since 1946 were men. In May 2018, veteran spy Gina Haspel became the first female director of the CIA.

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


A woman has never been Senate Majority Leader

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Mitch McConnell.
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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, fewer than 60 have been women. None have yet been elected to serve as the chief Senate spokesperson for their political party by their respective party caucuses.


Nor has one been the senator of 20 US states

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Cindy Hyde-Smith.
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Al Drago/Getty

No woman has ever been a senator of these 20 US states:

Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont.

Mississippi became the latest state to welcome its first female senator in April, 2018, with the appointment of Cindy Hyde-Smith.


A woman has never been the governor of 22 US states, either

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Maggie Hassan.
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REUTERS/Brian Snyder

No woman has ever been a governor of these 22 US states:

California, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, 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 about 40 other women have served as governor, including Maggie Hassan, who serves as governor of New Hampshire.


A woman has never been a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

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Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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Alex Wong/Getty

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 also tend to be decorated, four-star officers with combat command experience.


And it may be a while until one does

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Ann Dunwoody.
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Wikipedia

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.

But women were barred by the Department of Defense from serving in combat until 2013, and not it wasn’t until 2015 that the department open all combat jobs to women.


A woman has never been a member of the Catholic clergy

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Pope Francis.
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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.


A woman has never been Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Treasury, or Secretary of Veterans Affairs

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Hilda Solis.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty

In 1933, Frances Perkins became the first woman to serve as a cabinet member, under Franklin Roosevelt, as the Secretary of Labor.

Since then, about 50 other women have held a cabinet or cabinet-level appointments in US history, including former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, the first Hispanic woman to serve in the Cabinet.

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


A woman has never been a CEO of a top-5 Fortune 500 company

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Mary Barra.
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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 2017 were UnitedHealth Group (No. 5), Apple (No. 4), Berkshire Hathaway (No. 3), Exxon Mobil (No. 2), and Walmart (No. 1), none of which have been run by women.

Coming in at No. 10 on the list, however, is General Motors, which has Mary Barra at the helm.


A woman has never been a CEO of UN secretary-general

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Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
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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.