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First Women to Be in the Boards of Directors of Top Corporations

First Women to Be in the Boards of Directors of Top Corporations

Women are rising in every aspect and breaking all stereotypes, especially in the business and corporate world. This century has seen more women at the top positions of corporations than in the entire history. One thing that is common between every woman who has ever been on the top position in a man’s world is that “they all were extraordinary.”

While there are still a few barriers left to be crushed, women have worked hard over the last5 to 6 decades to bring their knowledge and expertise into the board room. Following are the women who were the first female board member of huge corporations.

Joan Ganz Cooney, Johnson & Johnson (1978)

Joan Ganz Cooney was one of the greatest businesswomen in corporate history. She was the co-founder of CTV (Children’s Television Workshop) in the year 1968 and served as the CEO till 1990. She is currently the head of Executive Committee of their Board. In the year 1978, she joined Johnson & Johnson which is a pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturer as a member of the board. She was also in the boards of directors on many corporations like Chase Manhattan Bank, Metropolitan Life Insurance, Edison Schools and Xerox. Joan is currently the Director at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and she is also a trustee of many NGOs.

Hillary Clinton, Wal-Mart (1986)

No one needs to tell you about Hillary Clinton but not most of the people know that she was the first woman as a boardroom member at Wal-Mart in 1986. Being on the board, she encourages gender impartiality and nature matters. She worked for almost 6 years as a board member and in those 6 years, Wal-Mart had developed an environmental advisory group.

Catherine Cleary, General Motors & AT&T (1972)

Catherine Cleary was the first woman to serve both AT&T and General Motors as a board member in the year 1972. While her tenure in General Motors, she encourages many female talent. Catherine was trying to make employers realize that there was a supply of very capable employees in their company who just happened to be women. Before she brought the revolution in GM, she was also the first-ever female board member at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance in the year 1955 and she was also an administer at the University of Wisconsin. She died in the year 2010 at the age of 93.

Sybil Collins Mobley – Sears, Roebuck & Co (1982)

Well, Giannini Hoffman was the first women who served as a board member of Sears but in the year 1982, Sybil Collins Mobley became the first African-American to be in the boards of director. Anheuser Busch Co., Hershey Foods Corp., Premark International are some companies in which she served as a boardroom member. Sybil also worked as a dean of the School of Business and Industry at Florida A&M University.

Hideko Kunii, Honda Motor (2014)

In 2014, Honda Motors appointed Hideko Kunii as first female board member. Being a tech expert she worked at Japanese electronics maker Ricoh. She is well known to promote gender equality in japan intensely patriarchal working system and she is also a professor in Tokyo.

Marian Heiskell, Ford Motor (1976)

In the year 1976, Ford Motors appointed a skilful print media executive as the first female board of directors and her name is Marian Heiskell. Her name came up because of various conservationist and philanthropic activities. She was an honourable citizen on Gateway National Recreation Area also the head of National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy.

Terry Savage, McDonalds (1990)

Everyone knows Terry Savage as influential speakers on personal finance and international markets. But very few know that she began her career as a stockbroker after getting a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in American Studies at the University of Michigan and later she became the first female trader on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Later in the year 1990, she joined McDonald’s as a board of director where she worked for over 14 years. She also served Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group and Pennzoil-Quaker State Corporation as board member.

Jill Ruckelshaus, CostCo (1996)

One of the most influential women in the last century is Jill Ruckelshaus. She has achieved many things in her lifetime and one of her achievement is to be the first female board member of Costco in the year 1996. She worked as an Environmental Consultant, Director at UNICEF and also earned Peabody Awards for Radio and Television. She is still actively working in national Women’s Political Caucus and various Women’s Forums.


Women are now not the inferior gender, they have proved over and over again that they have the capabilities to run any size of business. Well, there are more women who are dominating in business and corporate world and there is more to come.

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