‘Firsts’ for Women

I spent an interesting hour on Facebook last night.  I was looking for interesting girls and women to profile here, and since it’s Women’s History Month, there was not a shortage of great posts.  I read posts honoring women who are athletes, authors, artists, astronauts, activists — and those are just the As!

But this quote, posted by Chicago Sinfonietta, was my favorite, and it’s had me thinking since:


“I’m still quite shocked that it can be 2013 and there can be ‘firsts’ for women.”
– Marin Alsop, first female conductor at the Last Night of the Proms 2013.

So I’ve been thinking.  In 2013, and now in 2015, we still need girl pioneers.  We need girls who will be the “first female” to accomplish things.  Lots of things.  Here are a few “firsts” women have accomplished since Ms. Alsop’s quote:

Janet Yellen became the first woman to head the U.S. Federal Reserve
– Maryam Mirzakhani became the first female to win the Fields Medal in mathematics
Mia Love became the first black Republican woman in the U.S. Congress
Katie Higgins became the first female pilot to perform with the Blue Angels
Michelle Howard became the first female four-star admiral in the United States Navy

And there is still more to accomplish.  What can we do to empower our girls?  What will we encourage our daughters to do?  Maybe my daughter will be the first black woman to represent Arizona in Congress.  Maybe yours will be the first in her family to earn a Ph.D.  Maybe that girl you decide to mentor in her early years will cure cancer, or promote peace, or write a book, or share the gospel, or become a mother.   Let’s teach them about women of strength and character now, and show them how to become like them.

By the way, we’re still looking for the first female president of the United States.  My daughter wants to be the president, and while I fully support that idea… let’s not wait that long.

Emma Higbee

Emma Higbee became a Pioneer when she was 11 years old.


Emma’s family were Mormons, and they lived in the frontier town of Nauvoo, Illinois, along with many others of their faith.  They had spent years, all of Emma’s life, being chased from one town to another across four states as they tried to live peaceful lives and create something good.

Finally, when Emma was nine, her family had to leave their home in Nauvoo and start for the American West, a place no one lived.  If no one was there, no one would bother them.  At least, that’s what her Papa told her.

Emma’s family — Papa and Mother, Emma’s step-brother John Sims and her baby sister Minnie — traveled for months and only got as far as the makeshift town they called Winter Quarters on the western edge of Iowa Territory (now Omaha, Nebraska) before they had to stop to rest and save money to buy supplies for the rest of their journey.  They stayed there for two years.  Emma’s Papa ran the ferry across the river to help other families coming behind them.

When Emma was 10, Brigham Young took the Vanguard Company, the first group of Mormons, and traveled to the Salt Lake Valley.  He came back telling of a peaceful, safe place where they could build and grow.  Emma was ready.  She was done living in a tent.  She wanted to go to Zion.

Well, she wasn’t quite done living in a tent.  In 1848, the summer before Emma turned 12, she and her family walked 1,031 miles from Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake Valley.  Along the way Emma saw babies born and a child die, she faced hunger and consuming thirst, and she came face to face with a herd of bison in her company’s camp.  Her faith was tested as she became lost along the wagon road and relied on the teachings of her father and her own experiences with prayer to find her way back to her family and eventually to the Salt Lake Valley.

On September 24, 1848, Emma Higbee arrived at Zion.  It wasn’t exactly what she’d expected.  It certainly was nothing like Nauvoo.  But there was peace there, and the opportunity to live her beliefs.

Emma Higbee was a Pioneer.


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Pioneers pave the way – how will you be a Pioneer today?