Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 131st birth anniversary of Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu, one of the first women engineers in the world.

Who was Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu?

  • Zamfirescu was born in Romania on 10 November 1887.
  • She was the first female member of the General Association of Romanian Engineers (AGIR) and ran laboratories for the Geological Institute of Romania.
  • She oversaw several economic studies that analysed Romania’s supply of natural resources like coal, shale, natural gas, chromium, bauxite and copper.
  • Romania honoured her by naming a street after her in the capital city of Bucharest in 1993.

Although Zamfirescu graduated with high marks and earned a baccalaureate, she was rejected by a top school on the basis of her gender.

  • Unaffected by rejection, Zamfirescu looked elsewhere and applied to the Royal Technical Academy in Germany and was accepted in 1909.
  • She persevered despite facing discrimination, and earned her degree in engineering.

At the time of her graduation, the press reported positively proclaiming “in engineering, the future of women is great.”

  • Zamfirescu then returned to Romania, where she worked as an assistant at the Geological Institute of Romania.
  • She joined the Red Cross during World War 1 and married a chemist, Constantin Zamfirescu, with whom she had two daughters.
  • She has also written papers including one called ‘The Chemistry of Chromite in the Orsova Mountains’.

The engineer is remembered as a dedicated professional who worked long hours from morning to evening.

  • Zamfirescu then taught physics and chemistry at the Pitar Mos School of Girls at the School of Electricians and Mechanics in Bucharest.
  • Zamfirescu retired at the age of  75. She is known to have kept working past retirement age and didn’t fully retire after a four-decade-long career.
  • She died on November 25 1973, aged 86.

Elisa Zamfirescu became an engineer at a time when women engineers were almost unheard of. Irish Alice Perry graduated just six years before Zamfirescu to become the first-ever female engineer in the world. Zamfirescu followed suit soon after.

Featured image credit: YouTube

Also: Google Doodle Honours Cornelia Sorabji, India’s First Female Lawyer

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