Search engine giant Google today honoured Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu on her 131st birth anniversary. Born on November 10, 1887, in Romania, she was one of the finest female engineers.
Elisa’s father Atanase Leonida, was a career officer. Her mother, Matilda Gill, was the daughter of an engineer. Elisa’s brother was engineer Dimitrie Leonida. In her early days, she was rejected by the School of Bridges and Roads in Bucharest due to prejudices at that time against women in the field of Science.
She was admitted at Royal Academy of Technology Berlin, Charlottenburg in the year 1909. Elisa graduated in 1912, possessing an engineering degree. She is considered the world’s first female engineer, however, Irish engineer Alice Perry graduated in 1906, six years before her.
Zamfirescu was the first female member of the General Association of Romanian Engineers (AGIR) and ran laboratories for the Geological Institute of Romania. Her country honoured her by naming a street after her in the capital city of Bucharest in 1993. An award named after was created in 1997. The 'Premiul Elisa Leonida-Zamfirescu' honours female contributors to the fields of technology and science.
The Romanian engineer had to face gender-related discrimination before carving out her name in the field. Zamfirescu wanted to study at the School of Bridges and Roads in Bucharest after graduating high school but was rejected due to her gender.
Instead, she went to the Royal Technical University of Charlottenburg where she studied mechanical engineering, and later enrolled in 1909 and graduated in 1912, becoming one of the first female engineers to do so in Europe.