On October 19, 1919, the first US Distinguished Service Medal was awarded to a living female recipient, Anna Howard Shaw. From the article:
"Anna Howard Shaw PLACE OF BIRTH: England HOME OF RECORD: Moylan, Pennsylvania AWARDS BY DATE OF ACTION:
Army Distinguished Service Medal AWARDED FOR ACTIONS DURING World War I Service: U.S. civilian Rank: Civilian Division: Council of National Defense GENERAL ORDERS: War Department, General Orders No. 69 (1919)
CITATION: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Mrs. Anna Howard Shaw, a United States Civilian, for exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility during World War I. As Chairman of the Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense, Mrs. Shaw coordinated the mobilization and organization of women throughout the country in every phase of war work, including the securing of women for some of the various branches of the Army."