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Female Trailblazers On Taking Risks And Being “The First”

A panel highlighting female innovators and entrepreneurs who are making “firsts” in their field in celebration of the debut of Hulu's original series "The First"

A panel highlighting female innovators and entrepreneurs who are making “firsts” in their field in celebration of the debut of Hulu’s original series “The First”


Being a successful entrepreneur means thinking big, taking risks, and blazing new ground. Giving visibility to the women who are making game-changing discoveries is key for shifting perceptions and helping more women believe that they can make a big leap, too.
That’s why The Female Quotient teamed up with Hulu to co-host a screening of their original series The First, a space exploration drama that tells the stories of the astronauts on the first human mission to Mars and the lives of their families back on Earth, along with a panel highlighting female innovators and entrepreneurs who are making “firsts” in their field. Here are some words of wisdom from the female trailblazers to inspire you to follow your passions and chart new territory.
The Woman: Nicole Stott; American engineer and NASA astronaut
Why She’s a Trailblazer: One of her missions involved spending 91 days in space, and she holds the women’s world record for the longest saturation dive of 18 days.er latest adventure as a retired astronaut is being a full-time artist and advocate for STEAM education.
Words of Wisdom: On what inspired her to go into a male-dominated field: “It begins with curiosity. My parents inspired me; my mom was creative and my dad loved to fly. It evolved into trusting in people who saw something in me that I maybe didn’t see in myself. I never saw myself as an astronaut. Someone said I should pick up the pen and apply. I think that’s something everyone needs to remember to do: pick up the pen and apply.”
The Woman: Jennifer Fleiss, Co-Founder & CEO, JetBlack and Co-Founder, Rent The Runway
Why She’s a Trailblazer: Rent the Runway transformed the retail industry by making designer clothing rentals accessible to millions of women. Now Jennifer is creating more firsts at the helm of Jetblack, the first portfolio company within Walmart’s startup incubator.
Words of Wisdom: Trying new things doesn’t necessarily mean you have to revolutionize an entire industry. It can also be about pushing yourself outside your comfort zone in your daily life so you never stop learning and growing. Jennifer said, “To enjoy life and have a career worth having, there should be firsts every day — even if they’re small firsts.”
 The Woman: Natascha McElhone, Actor, Co-Star of the new Hulu Original The First
Why She’s a Trailblazer: The successful British Actress never took a role that compromised her beliefs. Rather, she has “turned down a ton of stuff that I felt objectified women.” She is best known for her portrayals in Ronin (1998), The Truman Show (1998) and Solaris (2002); she played Karen van der Beek in the Showtime comedy-drama, Californication and now stars as Laz Ingram, a strong female character who is pioneering new ground, in The First.
Words of Wisdom: There will inevitably be moments when you want to give up as you’re trying something new. Natascha’s advice for when you lose your nerve? “It feels like the earth is falling away, but you get back up and go on.” After all, if you don’t do it, who will? 
The Woman: Sarah Kunst, Managing Director, Cleo Capital and Senior Advisor, Bumble
Why She’s a Trailblazer: Less than 3% of venture investments go to female entrepreneurs—despite the fact that venture-backed startups with female founders drive a 35% higher ROI. Sarah is paving the way for a greater number of women and minorities to accomplish their own “firsts” by working to level the funding playing field with Cleo, a firm that gives cash to female entrepreneurs who will act as scouts, and her involvement with Bumble Fund, an investment fund to back female-founded and female-led businesses.
Words of Wisdom: We all learn from each other. Girls need to see women role models who have overcome barriers and risen up into positions of power where they call the shots—in startups, in corporations, in government, and everywhere. Sarah said: “There’s a first every day, but at some point it has to go all the way to the top so girls can see anything is possible.”
Be bold, own your strengths and don’t be afraid to be “the first.” For more on women charting new territory, check out:
7 Insights From Joanna Coles, Editor And Media Maven Extraordinaire
Life, Career & Parenting Advice From Bozoma Saint John
Esther Perel On The Post #MeToo Era