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In a list of female firsts, Hillary Clinton is the latest

June 10, 2008 | 12:37 am

At the end of a long presidential primary season when so much attention was focused on one particular female pioneer, it's rather impressive to run down a list of other advances by women in public life in recent years, a surprising number of them promoted there by the current president.

In another decade of firsts for women, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York -- the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from New York, and the first and only former first lady elected to public office -- has had her share of groundbreaking achievements.

She was the firHillary Clinton first female senator from New York and first major party candidate femakle to win a state primary electionst woman to win a major party's presidential primary election this year, in New Hampshire.

Now, should Barack Obama select her as a running mate, she will not be the first female candidate for vice president of a major party. Democrat Geraldine Ferraro had that honor, with Walter Mondale in 1984 -- and more recently, she had some comments about the state of play in the 2008 presidential contest that stirred some controversy.

There's a long list of political firsts for women in the history of a nation that once denied women the right to vote -- going back to Elizabeth Cady Stanton's failed bid for the House in 1866. With the denial of rights, and ultimately the winning of rights, came many firsts.

They're collected at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey. We've highlighted the center's 2000-2008 list here:

2001: Condoleezza Rice became the first woman to hold the post of national security advisor (formally known as assistant to the president for national security affairs) when she was appointed by President George W. Bush.

2001: Elaine Chao became the first Asian American woman to serve in the Cabinet when she was appointed secretary of Labor by President Bush.

2001: Gale Norton became the first woman to serve as secretary of the Interior, appointed by President Bush. Norton was the first woman elected as Colorado's attorney general and served in that position for two terms.

2001: Ann Veneman was appointed by President Bush to be the first female secretary of Agriculture. She had previously been the first woman to serve as secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

2001: Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey became the first female former governor to serve in a Cabinet-level position when she was appointed administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency by President Bush. She was the first woman elected governor of New Jersey and served two terms in that position.

For the rest of Mark Silva's long look at female firsts, in which Hillary Clinton is the latest, click here.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo: Hillary Clinton has had her share of groundbreaking achievements. Credit: Associated Press

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