This June was full of breaking records and smashing glass ceilings. Our Lionesses this month showed that baseball fields, darts world championships, the walls of the Capitol and even the highest ranks in the military aren’t just for men. Explore our stories of women in the news.
Meet our Lionesses This Month:
Playing ball with the boys
Kelsie Whitmore recently became the first woman to ever pitch in an Atlantic League baseball game. The 24-year-old pitcher and outfielder for the Staten Island Ferryhawks is the first woman to play in a league partnered with Major League Baseball since 1994.
Whitmore played softball in high school and college, but her true passion was always baseball. She plays with her signature long hair down underneath her hat because she doesn’t like ponytails and refuses to let anyone tell her she doesn’t belong.
In an interview, her father Scott Whitmore shared that people would doubt his daughter growing up despite her success. “‘Hey, the boys are going to get stronger, and she’s not going to be able to hang with them.’ They said that at age 12, and it never happened,” he recalls.
Nothing has stopped her yet. She says her goal is “to continue playing the game as long as I possibly can,” as she works to move up towards the major leagues.
This spring saw several other important strides in baseball. Rachel Balkovec became the first woman to manage in affiliated baseball and the Atlantic League’s Kentucky Wild Health Genomes drafted Alexis Hopkins to serve as the team’s bullpen catcher. Whitmore, however, stands out as the only woman on the mound aiming for the big leagues.
Fallon Sherrock was the only woman at the Theater at Madison Square Garden for the U.S. Darts Masters earlier this month. The British darts player is used to being the only woman at these events, though. She started throwing as a teenager and quickly moved up to competing against men. She became the first woman to make the final of a men’s tour event last fall after beating the world’s fifth-ranked player, Dimitri Van den Bergh.
Sherrock says she actually prefers playing with men. “You end up winding them up because they don’t want to lose to a girl,” she says. And lose they do—she had record-breaking wins over Ted Everetts (77th) and Mensur Suljovic (11th) in 2020, the first-ever female wins at the men’s worlds.
Although she lost in a round of 16 at the New York event, she continues to be the only woman to consistently beat top-ranked men at the highest levels of darts in the world.
Written on the walls (or doors)
Dozens of rooms throughout the U.S. Capitol Building are named in honor of senators—all men. But as of this month, two doors (finally) bear the names of female senators. On June 8th, a bipartisan group of senators came together to dedicate the spaces to trailblazing former Senators Barbara Mikulski and Margaret Chase Smith.
Smith passed away in 1995 and was the first woman to win elections to both the U.S. House and Senate. Mikulski was the second.
“I would hope that when people see these two rooms … that they are inspired today about service, about duty, about respect for the Constitution and for each other,” Mikulski said. She retired in 2017 after 45 years as the longest-serving woman in Congress.
Mikulski was always an advocate for women’s issues, both inside and outside Congress. Most memorably, she led the “Pantsuit Rebellion of 1993” to change dress code policies in the Capitol. She also championed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and helped establish the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health, among other initiatives.
Now, both of these remarkable women’s names hang above rooms where they were once the only female voices present. Today we have 24 women in Congress, no doubt inspired by the trailblazing efforts of Smith and Mikulski.
Moving up the ranks
Admiral Linda Fagan just became Commandant of the Coast Guard, making her the first woman to ever lead a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. She has been serving for more than 40 years. When she graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1985, she was one of 16 other women. That year was the sixth year women were allowed to attend. During her first enlistment, she was the only woman on her two-year tour.
Changing recruiting and assignment policies to be more inclusive is one of her top initiatives as a military leader. More and more women are joining the military and taking on leadership positions, but the list of women in the upper ranks is still short. Admiral Fagan intends to change that.
“We’re a learning organization striving to be more diverse and representative of the great nation that we serve,” Schultz told crowds gathered at Wednesday’s ceremony. “To be the world’s best, we must also be the world’s most inclusive.”
More stories of women in the news this month:
- Linn Grant became the first woman ever to win the DP World Tour in golf.
- The American Women Quarters Program, which we first covered back in January, will honor five extraordinary women with commemorative quarters from 2022 to 2025. This month, the United States Mint released the design for the third coin celebrating Wilma Mankiller.