The "E" in STEM: Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu
We're going to continue celebrating pioneer women in STEM. Here we take a look at a strong woman who weathered routine discrimination to become one of the world's first qualified women engineers. Engineering was a large part of Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu's family - her grandfather and brother were engineers. She had a profound love for the subject and applied to study at the School of Bridges and Roads in Bucharest, the capital city of her home country of Romania. She was rejected on the grounds of her gender, but she went on to apply and be granted entry into the Royal Academy of Technology Berlin.

She was constantly ridiculed publicly by her lecturers. One of her professors famously stopped his lecture when he saw her in his classroom, yelling that women belonged in the kitchen, not in an engineering class. The Dean of her university banned her from attending the university's dance social event.

Despite the social exclusion she faced, she persevered and slowly won the respect of the faculty. She graduated in 1912, becoming Europe's first woman engineer. Her University Dean dubbed her: “the most diligent of the diligent.”

She volunteered with the Red Cross during World War I. She joined  the Geological Institute, running several labs that analysed natural resources, including various minerals, oil, gas, coal, rocks and ore. Due to her achievements, she became celebrated in her home country. A national newspaper announced her graduation, hailing her a Romanian hero. Even though her own country had denied her the opportunity to obtain her degree, she became the first woman member of A.G.I.R. (General Association of Romanian Engineers). A street in Bucharest was named after her in 1993, two decades after her death. 

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Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu was not allowed to study Engineering in her native Romania. She travelled  to Germany & became Europe's first woman engineer. Her University Dean dubbed her: “the most diligent of the diligent.”
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