Filmmakers: Spencer Bakalar, Diane Tsai

“She broke the glass ceiling.” What a jagged image we use for women who achieve greatly, defining accomplishment in terms of the barrier rather than the triumph. There she is up where the air is thin, where men still outnumber women, but where the altitude is awesome. The glass ceiling doesn’t break in a single moment. Rather, as Oprah Winfrey puts it, it’s “a series of consistent things” that make people say, “Aha! It’s time for change.”

That insight is just one takeaway from TIME’s Firsts, an expansive multimedia project celebrating dozens of women who were the first in their fields. The series includes the stories of 46 groundbreaking women, with 37 video profiles and 5 video compilations of their reflections on their childhoods, setbacks, and motivations, and more.

Our goal with Firsts is for every woman and girl to find someone whose presence in the highest reaches of success says to her that it is safe to climb, come on up, the view is spectacular.

About the Filmmakers

Spencer Bakalar is a video producer at TIME. After joining the team in 2016, she produced Firsts, an expansive multimedia project featuring 46 groundbreaking women. Prior to TIME, she worked at the Los Angeles Times, where she produced and edited long-form projects, ranging from environmental injustices in East L.A. to farm labor in Mexico. She was also a member of the Powering a Nation team that produced Emmy-nominated 100 Gallons. Spencer graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is currently based in New York City.

Diane Tsai is a video producer at TIME, where she has been producing short documentaries and video features since 2013. Her recent projects include Firsts, an expansive multimedia project on 46 groundbreaking women ranging from Hillary Clinton to Selena Gomez, and TIME Red Border Film Evidence of Things Unseen, featuring an Iraq War veteran and George W. Bush. She is a graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and is currently based in New York City. She was raised in Southern California and is a proud Taiwanese American.