Justicia Espada Acuña: Google Doodle celebrates the first Chilean civil engineer’s 128th Birthday

Google Doodle celebrates the 128th birthday of Chilean civil engineer Justicia Espada Acuña, the first woman with this profession in Chile and South America, on January 14, 2021.

Who was Justicia Espada Acuña?

Justicia Espada Acuna
Justicia Espada Acuña

Justicia Acuña Mena was born on January 14, 1893, in the Chilean capital of Santiago. Her dad was a civil engineer who supported Acuña and her seven siblings to follow their dreams and challenge unjust societal standards.

After secondary school, she studied mathematics, yet she soon took an interest in engineering instead. She learned at the Liceo de Aplicación and afterward at the Instituto Pedagógico.

In 1913, Justicia Espada Acuña became the first woman to join the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Chile, being the only woman among all the students of that faculty.

Justicia Espada Acuña made history when she graduated with a degree in civil engineering seven years after the fact. She graduated as a civil engineer in 1919, alongside Jorge Alessandri.

The following year, Justicia Espada Acuña started her exploring profession as a calculator for the State Railways’ Department of Roads and Works (Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado).

Excluding a break to bring up her seven children, she worked for the organization until her retirement in 1954.

In 1920, Justicia Espada Acuña started working as a calculator in the Department of Roads and Works of the Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado.

Throughout Justicia Espada Acuña’s career at Empresa, she left a few times to bring up her seven children however consistently returned before resigning in 1954.

Justicia Espada Acuña died in 1980 in Santiago, Chile.

To honor Justicia Espada Acuña’s life and work for the advancement of women, in July 1980, the Chilean College of Engineers set up the “Gallery of Illustrious Engineers”, where Acuña was incorporated.

Around a decade after the fact, the Institute of Engineers made an award in her name for outstanding female engineers.

In 1991, the Justicia Acuña Mena Award was made; it is awarded every two years to an outstanding woman engineer in the practice of her profession.

Furthermore, in 2018 the Faculty of Physical Science and Mathematics of the University of Chile renamed its central tower after Acuña to memorialize the faculty’s first female student.

On January 14, 2021, Google observes Justicia Espada Acuña’s 128th Birthday with Google Doodle.

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