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How women made history at the 2015 Emmy Awards

Sometimes change happens slowly, and sometimes it comes in like Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball. Well, tonight’s Emmy Awards just broke free of some long-held patterns in a bid to achieve some serious gender parity.

That’s right — women positively rocked the 2015 Emmy Awards, taking home statues in several categories usually dominated by men, and we kind of can’t contain our excitement! And what’s more, two of the evening’s biggest winning shows — Veep and Olive Kitteridge — also feature female protagonists!

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But even more important than the number of women accepting awards this evening was the fact that three of the evening’s outstanding actress awards went to women of color.

Could times — finally — be changing?

It’s no secret we’re seeing more white women and women of color in major television roles and behind the scenes, but seeing them receive the recognition they deserve offers validation for all the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into the recent uptick in strong female programming.

While every woman’s win tonight was super-empowering, a few of the evening’s winners stood out as exceptionally memorable, chief among them Viola Davis’s well-deserved win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Davis, who delivered a powerful speech about women of color on screen at the National Women’s History Museum’s fourth annual Women Making History Brunch just yesterday, became the first woman of color to win the award.

More: Viola Davis’s Women Making History speech reveals her mission for women of color

Award-winning actress, writer and director Ava DuVernay (Selma) pointed out the long history of whiteness ruling the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category on Twitter earlier this evening.

In her speech, Davis said that “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

Thankfully, more and more opportunities are becoming available, and Viola wasn’t the only woman of color accepting an award tonight. Regina King won an Emmy for her supporting role in American Crime, and the fabulous Uzo Aduba won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Orange Is the New Black.

More: Orange Is the New Black cast crushes the Emmys red carpet

Women also took home statues in Directing — a field notorious for excluding women — and Writing, with director Jill Soloway winning a statue for her direction on Transparent, Lisa Cholodenko for directing HBO’s Olive Kitteridge and screenwriter Jane Anderson winning for writing Olive Kitteridge.

Then there was Amy Schumer‘s big win for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, proving to every girl everywhere that you don’t have to be perfect, “proper,” or polite to make it in Hollywood and have people throw accolades and shiny statues your way.

Seriously, with so many awesome women winning awards tonight, we’re kind of hoping that young women everywhere are feeling inspired. In a society that consumes as much entertainment as we do, creating strong and diverse female role models both on screen and off is incredibly important. Seeing their work recognized by an institution like the Emmy Awards, which has traditionally been dominated by white men, is even more so.

So tonight, let’s hear it for the ladies, because they’ve earned it!

More: Viola Davis brought the room to tears during her Emmys 2015 speech

Emmys Fashion Slideshow
Image: John Shearer/WireImage/Getty Images

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