In 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first woman ever to secure a major political party’s nomination for presidency. Just as Barack Obama’s election broke the race barrier, her potential victory would serve as a major milestone for gender equality in the United States.
Although the gender gap has been further diminished since the last century, women across the country (and globe) are still facing innumerable disadvantages and obstacles on a daily basis: they hold far fewer political offices than men, are subject to job discrimination, and still earn less than their male equivalents. Despite its stance in the world, the US ranked 22nd in terms of gender equality according to the 2012 World Economic Forum.
The current context for feminism in American has progressed little in recent years, and the fight for equality is ever-present. However, the impact of Clinton’s campaign in running to become the first female president of the US could deliver an important socio-political message.
Here we look back at some of the US’s greatest female firsts – leaders, politicians, writers, poets, and singers – those who across their respective fields have challenged gender inequality.
Shot by Magnum photographers including Susan Meiselas, Paolo Pellegrin, David Seymour, Carl de Keyzer, Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed, Wayne Miller, Eli Reed, and more, these archival images celebrate some of the world’s most influential women figures across history. Alongside the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Pelosi, iconic activist and writer Gloria Steinem, to those representing the arts: Maya Angelou, and Aretha Franklin, we also champion the documentation of those fighting for the cause in everyday, male-dominated industries. Photographs by Michael Christopher Brown, Alec Soth and Peter van Agtmael here feature women across the armed forces, police departments, to firefighters, pushing daily boundaries in closing the gender gap in difficult and often highly discriminatory vocations.