New Delhi: Google on Saturday dedicated a Doodle in honour of Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu who fought gender barriers to become one of the first woman engineers in the world. Born in the Romanian port city of Galati on November 10, 1887, Zamfirescu passed school with high marks from the Central School of Girls in Bucharest, and earned a baccalaureate from Mihai Viteazul High School. One of 10 siblings, Zamfirescu wanted to study at the School of Bridges and Roads in Bucharest after graduating high school but was rejected for being a girl.
Instead, she went to the Royal Technical University of Charlottenburg, now known as the Technical University of Berlin, where she studied mechanical engineering. There, too, life was not a bed of roses. One of her deans remarked she would be better off focusing on “Kirche, kinder, and kuche” (Church, children, and cooking). But young Zamfirescu persisted for three years to earn her degree and become one of the first woman engineers in the world. She became the first female member of A.G.I.R. (General Association of Romanian Engineers), eventually running laboratories for the Geological Institute of Romania.
In her 86 years of life, Zamfirescu carved herself a spot in a male-dominated field, led geology labs, and studied Romanian mineral resources. She oversaw numerous economic studies analysing Romania’s supply of natural resources like coal, shale, natural gas, chromium, bauxite and copper, Google said. The Google Doodle created to mark her 131st birth anniversary depicts her contribution to the country’s economy. During World War I, she worked for the Red Cross as a hospital manager around the small town of Marasesti — the final major battle between Romania and Germany in 1917. She introduced new methods and analysis techniques to study minerals and substances such as water, coal, and oil and is remembered as a dedicated engineer who worked long hours from morning to evening.
Zamfirescu kept working past retirement age and didn’t fully retire until the age of 75 years old after a four-decade career. Mother of two daughters, Zamfirescu also taught physics and chemistry at the Pitar Mos School of Girls as well as at the School of Electricians and Mechanics in Bucharest. She was known for paying special attention to the training of staff and spending long hours mentoring young chemists. Zamfirescu, who was also vocal about disarmament, and filed a complaint with the disarmament committee at London’s Lancaster House with a focus on nuclear threat, had a street named in her honour in the Romanian capital in 1993.