Marie Curie, pictured in a 1908 photo with her daughters...

Marie Curie, pictured in a 1908 photo with her daughters Eve and Irene, became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1903 for her work in physics. Credit: Getty

Women's History Month grew out of Women's History Week, begun in California in 1978. In 1981, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and then-Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) co-sponsored a Congressional resolution proclaiming it a national celebration. In 1987, Congress expanded the celebration to a month.

Since then, women have been recognized and honored for their contributions to history in the United States and abroad, including two teenagers on their way to womanhood.

None of these women occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but each of them did something that no other woman had done before, and in so doing made it possible for others to follow in their footsteps.

Ellen Ochoa -- She was the first Hispanic woman in space in 1993, and in 2013 she became the first Hispanic director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Ruth Graves Wakefield -- The dietitian and food lecturer accidentally invented the first chocolate chip cookie. In 1930, Wakefield was making cookies for the guests at the Toll House Inn tourist lodge in Whitman, Massachusetts, that she operated with her husband, Kenneth. She ran out of baker's chocolate and substituted broken pieces of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate. The result caused a spike in Nestle sales and yielded Wakefield a lifetime supply of chocolate. The chocolate chip cookie was a hit then and remains the most popular variety in America.

Maya Lin -- She was the first Asian-American woman to design a monument (the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982) on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In 1989 she designed the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala., and in 1995 the Wave Field at the University of Michigan.

Shirley Chisholm -- The nation's first black congresswoman was elected in 1968 and represented New York State in the House of Representatives for seven terms. She was also the first major-party black candidate to run for president -- in 1972 -- and was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Frances Perkins -- She was the first female member of a presidential cabinet. Perkins was Franklin D. Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor in 1933. She held the job until 1945 and helped craft some of Roosevelt's New Deal programs, including Social Security.

Janet Guthrie -- She was the first woman to drive in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, both in 1977. Her helmet and driver's suit are in the Smithsonian Institution. In the 1960s, Guthrie was a research and development engineer at Republic Aviation in Farmingdale, where she worked on programs that were precursors to Project Apollo.

Bella Abzug -- The activist and politician introduced the first gay-rights bill in Congress in 1975.

Edith Wharton -- The author was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize, in 1921 for her book "The Age of Innocence." In 1923 she became the first woman awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Yale University.

Gloria Estefan -- The Miami Sound Machine frontwoman was the first Latin-American to perform at halftime of the Superbowl, in January 1992.

Mary Anderson invented windshield wipers in 1903.

Golfer Edith Cummings was the first female athlete to grace the cover of Time magazine, in 1924.

Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. In 1903 she won it for physics.

Tabitha Babbitt invented the circular saw in 1812.

Mo'Ne Davis, of Philadelphia, became the first Little League player on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, in August 2014. The distinction came after Davis, 13, had already made history elsewhere -- by becoming the first girl to get a win and throw a shutout in Little League World Series history. In 2014, she was named Sports Illustrated Kids' "Sports Kid of the Year."

Susan Warner was the first American novelist to sell more than 1 million copies with her book "The Wide, Wide World."

Annie Dodge Wauneka was the first Native American to receive the Presidentialmedal of Freedom, in 1963 for her efforts to decrease infant mortality and tuberculosis.

Rita Dove was the first black woman and the youngest poet laureate in U.S. history when she was appointed in 1993.

Malala Yousafzay won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, at the age of 17, becoming the youngest ever recipient. Yousafzay -- a native of Pakistan who is a child education and survived a Taliban gun attack in 2012 -- shared the prize with Kailash Satyarthi, a child rights campaigner in India.

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