Firsts: the Pain and the Power
By Lynn Branigan
Fifteen months ago, I watched the inauguration of the country’s first female Vice President. Within the next several days, I hope to once again witness history as the first Black female is confirmed to the highest court of the US.
In 2021, women made history 21 times, taking first steps into everything from refereeing the Superbowl, to winning a golden globe for best director, to completing a Yurchenko double pike vault in gymnastics competition, to being the first woman to win the highest payout in Jeopardy history. None of these accomplishments was achieved without pain. All of them – hopefully – smoothed out the numerous bumps and pitfalls for those who will surely follow.
As an organization that exists to pave the way for more women to lead, we track closely the firsts that women achieve. Every year there are new milestones accomplished, titles earned, and records broken. So many, in fact, you might think we would run out of “firsts” to accomplish. And yet, there are still many landmarks that evade us. A woman has never been President of the United States. Or a head coach of an NFL team. Or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Or director of the FBI.
I’ve often said that if She Runs It achieves its grandest objectives, we will make ourselves obsolete. If we reach a place where as many women as men lead across every level of marketing, media, and tech, we will have reached the pinnacle and our work will be done. But there is still so much to do. So many “firsts” to accomplish. So many “bests” to prove.a
When Judge Jackson is confirmed to the Surpreme Court, she will have more experience than four of the current justices combined, and she will be the first and only justice who has served as a public defender. The journey to first as a woman may not be easy, but clearly we are up to the task.