Black History, Today: Meet 16 Women Who Are Breaking Barriers in Their Industries

During Black History Month we often look back on achievements and advancements that have been made by historical Black leaders and pioneers. However, with the past few years of racial reckoning and the call for greater representation and inclusion in every sector, we are living in a time when history is unfolding right before our eyes.


At the FQ, we are celebrating trailblazing Black women who are breaking barriers across government, media, science, sports, tech and more because Black history is truly history in the making. 


1. Mariah Stackhouse

The first Black Woman on the Curtis Cup team and the youngest Black woman to earn a berth in the U.S. Women’s Open field


2. Shelly Cayette

The first Black Woman to Hold Title of EVP, COO in the NBA


3. Angela F. Williams

The first Black president and chief executive of United Way Worldwide


4. Bianca Smith

The first Black woman to serve as a coach in the history of professional baseball


5. Dr. Claire Karekezi

The first and sole female neurosurgeon in all of Rwanda, who, since 2018, has served as a consultant neurosurgeon at the Rwandan Military Hospital in the country’s capital


6. Jennifer King

The first Black woman to serve as a full-time assistant coach in the NFL when she was hired as assistant running backs coach for the Washington Football Team


7. Kristen Clarke

The first woman and first Black woman to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division


8. Maia Chaka

The first Black female referee in the NFL; she is also the second female referee following Sarah Thomas 


9. Cori Bush

The first Black woman and first nurse to represent Missouri; she’s also the first woman to represent Missouri’s 1st Congressional District


10. Rashida Jones

The first Black president at MSNBC, making her the first Black woman to run a major cable news network


11. Cynt Marshall

The first Black female CEO of an NBA franchise; she also holds another first as one of the first Black cheerleaders at Berkley


12. Alicia Boler Davis

The first Black woman named to Amazon’s senior team, the inner circle that advises Jeff Bezos


13. Sydney Barber

The U.S. Naval Academy’s first Black female brigade commander


14. Nia DaCosta

The first Black female director to debut a film at No. 1 with Candyman; she was also hired to direct The Marvels — making her both the first Black woman and the youngest director to helm a Marvel film


15. Aicha Evans 

The first Black woman to run a self-driving car company when she agreed to become the new CEO of autonomous vehicle start-up Zoox in 2019


16. Susan Collins

Currently an economist at the University of Michigan, Collins will be the new president of The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, making her the first Black woman to lead one of the U.S. central bank’s 12 districts


Celebrate the Black women who are breaking barriers in your industry by sharing in the comments or at @FemaleQuotient.


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