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Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu Was One Of World’s First Female Engineers

Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu

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