Nicole Aunapu Mann is one of several impressive women who enshrined themselves in the history books this year. (Credit: NASA)

Amid the din of news we received throughout 2022, some bright spots emerged.

While there were certainly setbacks for women’s rights – from the overturn of Roe vs. Wade to Taliban restrictions on girls’ education –  there were plenty of achievements for women in the areas of education, politics, the arts and more.

To keep the focus on the positive,  we’re looking at the “good” and reflecting on several women who achieved some seriously noteworthy “firsts.” The standout folks featured below set new records, climbed to new heights and blazed new trails.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate these 10 outstanding women, and the milestones they accomplished in 2022.


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Ketanji Jackson Brown

The First Black Woman Supreme Court Justice – Brown, who succeeded retired Justice Stephen Breyer, is also the first public defender ever confirmed to the highest court in the land. “We are seeing the achievements of Black women who are leading at the highest level,” Glynda Carr, co-founder of Higher Heights, told The Story Exchange during her confirmation hearings.


(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Mj Rodriguez

The First Trans Golden Globe Winner – This win was bestowed in honor of Rodriguez’s critically celebrated performance as Blanca on the hit FX drama “Pose.” “This is for the LGBTQAI, Black, Latina, Asian, the many multi-beautiful colors of the rainbow,” she said in her acceptance speech. “This is not just for me. This is for y’all. This is the door that opens for y’all.”


(Credit: Zgreenblatt, Wikimedia Commons)

Maura Healey

The First Openly Lesbian Governor – She was elected governor of Massachusetts in the 2022 midterms, and is also only the third openly queer person of any gender to lead a state. “I want to say … to every little girl and every young LGBTQ person out there: I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever you want to be,” she said the night she won.


(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This Group of Women Calling the Shots

The First All-Female Referee Team at the World Cup – The 2022 World Cup, held in Qatar, featured the first officiating team comprised solely of women. The group oversaw the match between Costa Rica and Germany – and experts note that they weren’t there for appearances. “Without a referee, you don’t have a true, competitive, professional game,” CBS sports analyst and former FIFA referee Christina Unkel told NPR.


(Credit: NASA)

Nicole Aunapu Mann

The First Indigenous Woman to Go to Space – The NASA astronaut left Earth with SpaceX’s Crew-5 mission in October, and made history in the process. “It’s important that we celebrate our diversity and really communicate that specifically to the younger generation,” she said to Reuters of the achievement.


(Credit: Flickr)

Jennifer Hudson

The Youngest Woman Ever to ‘EGOT’ – To “EGOT” means to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award. And Hudson, who first rose to fame as a contestant on Fox’s hit reality competition “American Idol,” became the youngest woman to ever collect all four. She earned the distinction with a Tony win earlier this year for co-producing the musical “A Strange Loop.”


(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Claudine Gay

The First Black President of Harvard – Never in the university’s 400-year history has a Black person been its president – until now. Gay, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, said “my parents believed that education opens every door.” Now, she’ll be helping new generations of students achieve their own dreams.


(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Jane Campion

The First Woman to Snag Multiple Oscar Nods for Directing – Before this year, no woman had ever been nominated twice in this Academy Awards category. She scored the critical second nomination for her Netflix drama “The Power of the Dog.” Campion then won, becoming only the third female director to do so in Oscars history (after Kathryn Bigelow and Chloé Zhao).


(Credit: American Airlines)

These Amazing Aviators

The First All-Black Female American Airlines Crew – A seemingly routine August flight from Dallas to Phoenix was made special by the airline staffers – all of them, Black women – who got everyone from one city to the other. The pilots, flight attendants, cargo team members and aviation maintenance technicians flew together in honor of Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to earn her pilot’s license.


(Credit: Jeopardy)

Amy Schneider

The Biggest Woman Winner in “Jeopardy” History – Who could have known, when Schneider debuted during the show’s Trans Awareness Week, she’d make history? That said, her goal is to “represent [the transgender] part of my identity accurately: as important, but also relatively minor.” Because, as she noted to her Twitter followers: She’s “a lot of other things, too!”