Jeannette Rankin was not the first woman to run for Congress. That was Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1868 in New York. The rumor is that Stanton got 13 votes, all from people directly related to her.
Luckily in 1916 Jeannette Rankin was much more successful. Rankin was a lifelong pacifist, a social worker, and a suffragette, who went to college at the turn of the century (she graduated from University of Montana in 1902) and lived to protest the Vietnam War. She is the only member of Congress who voted against World Wars 1 and 2, the former a vote taken within the first week of her term.
Jeanette Rankin was elected after being instrumental in winning women the right to vote in Montana. She ran for Congress shortly after allowing that her gender could vote. After losing reelection in 1918 she took 20 years off to move to D.C. and become a lobbyist, and then she ran for Congress again, and won.
Rankin should be a role model to women in politics, and women in any field. She shattered the political glass ceiling with gusto, and fought for causes she believed in until she was nearly 100 years old.