Justicia Acuña

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Justicia Acuña
Justicia Espada (1919) (cropped).jpg
Justicia Acuña in 1919
Born(1893-01-14)January 14, 1893
Santiago, Chile
Died1980 (aged 86–87)
Santiago, Chile
Alma materUniversity of Chile
OccupationCivil engineer
Known forFirst woman civil engineer in Chile
  • José Acuña Latorre (father)

Justicia Espada Acuña Mena (January 14, 1893 – 1980)[1] was a Chilean civil engineer. Justicia was the first woman civil engineer in Chile.[2]


Justicia Acuña Mena was born in Santiago, Chile, on January 14, 1893. She was the daughter of an engineer, José Acuña Latorre.[3] She had eight siblings.[4] She studied at the Liceo de Aplicación and then at the Instituto Pedagógico. In 1913, she switched her studies from mathematics to civil engineering,[4][5] and entered the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences of the University of Chile, being the only woman among all the students of that faculty.[2] She graduated as a civil engineer in 1919, along with Jorge Alessandri.[6]

In 1920, Acuña began working as a calculator in the Department of Roads and Works of the Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado.[7][5] During the course of her career at Empresa, she left a few times to raise her seven children, but always returned before retiring in 1954.[4]

Acuña died in Santiago in 1980.


In July 1980, to honor Acuña's effort for the advancement of women, the Chilean College of Engineers established the "Gallery of Illustrious Engineers", where she was included.

In 1991, the Justicia Acuña Mena Award was created; it is awarded every two years to an outstanding woman engineer in the practice of her profession.[2][5]

On January 14, 2021, there was a Google Doodle to celebrate her on her birthday.[8]

See also[edit]

  • Elisa Bachofen—first Argentinian woman graduated as a civil engineer in 1918.


  1. ^ Hispano americano. Tiempo. 1980. p. 51. La chilena Justicia Espada Acuña de Guajardo, primera mujer en su país que recibió, en 1917, el título de ingeniera civil, falleció en Santiago a la edad de 87 años. (in Spanish)
  2. ^ a b c "Acuña Mena, Justicia (1893-1980)" (in Spanish). Educarchile. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  3. ^ "FamilySearch: Sign In".
  4. ^ a b c Dávalo, Andrea. "La primera ingeniera de Sudamérica: Un logro con justicia - Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas - Universidad de Chile". ingenieria.uchile.cl (in Spanish). Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Justicia Espada Acuña (1893-1980)". Mujeres Bacanas (in Spanish). 6 November 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  6. ^ Arancibia Clavel, Patricia; Vial Correa, Gonzalo; Góngora Escobedo, Álvaro (1996). Jorge Alessandri, 1896-1986 : una biografía (1. edición). Zig-Zag. p. 53. ISBN 9789561212060. OCLC 36116446.
  7. ^ "Justicia Acuña Mena - Mujer Impacta". mujerimpacta.cl. 25 October 2017. Archived from the original on 25 October 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Justicia Espada Acuña's 128th Birthday". www.google.com.