I have been asked to participate in the “Mednight” by writing a short review on the topic “Pioneering scientists”. From my position as professor of the Environmental Technologies Area, with almost all of my teaching at the Higher Technical School of Industrial Engineers of the UPCT, the choice could not be other than Mª Teresa Estevan Bolea, to whom I have already referred previously as one of the benchmarks in our country in creating environmental awareness. Hers was the first environmental impact book that I had in my hands.


“Mª Teresa is undoubtedly a great example to follow, a professional model and a benchmark for all young engineers, and, from my point of view, for all young women who want to dedicate themselves to this profession”


Mª Teresa was born in Huesca in 1936, she studied Secondary Education in her hometown, she wanted to study mathematics, but on the advice of her father she studied engineering. Thus, she enrolled in the School of Industrial Engineering in Barcelona and was the only woman in her grade. She was one of the first industrial engineers in Spain, the fifth according to some sources. She worked between 1962 and 1967 as Technical Director of Projects, Inspections and Metallic Constructions, LTD. In 1970 she obtained the position of State Industrial Engineer by opposition and was the first woman to join that body. As she herself has commented in an interview, she actively participated in the drafting of the Atmospheric Environment Protection Law of 1972. Law that I like to refer to in my classes since in its preamble it points to the need to consider the environment as a whole, pointing out reasons of urgency which make this sectorial legislation necessary and indicating the possible negative consequences on other aspects, such as water or soil, if this global vision of the environment is not taken. She promoted the initiative of the Government of Spain for the creation with UNEP of the International Centre for Training in Environmental Sciences (CIFCA) in 1975.

In 1978 she was appointed Deputy Director General of Information and dissemination of the General Directorate of the Environment, in the Ministry of Public Works and in 1979 she became the General Director of the Environment. From her position, convinced of the need to raise awareness among the population so that any environmental policy achieves the proposed objectives, she promotes the Citizen Awareness Plan, which publishes, for the school dissemination of these issues, the Environment Notebooks. It promotes the creation of an introductory program to environmental problems for municipal technicians and councillors. In this period, a national inventory of natural and cultural resources begins, in order to catalogue and protect our environmental heritage. Between 1983 and 1987 she was Chief Engineer of the Studies Office of the Superior Council of the Ministry of Industry and Energy.

Mª Teresa has also participated in the political life of our country, has been a deputy for Madrid in the III and IV legislatures (1987-1993) and a MEP from 1994 to 1999. From 1999 to 2001 she chaired the Higher Council for Industry and Energy, and in 2000-2001 she was a counsellor of the National Energy Commission. She was appointed president of the Nuclear Safety Council in 2001, a position she held until 2006, the year in which she retired. The College of Industrial Engineers of Madrid awarded her an Honourable Mention for her professional career in 2007. She has continued her incessant activity, as has been the Dean of the College of Industrial Engineers of Madrid from 2013 to 2016.

Her life trajectory has received important awards. In 2018, the World Federation of Engineering Organisations awarded her the “Women in Engineering” award and she was the first woman to receive it. In 2019, the Royal Academy of Engineering distinguished her as a Laureate Engineer “for having carried out a professional activity considered as a benchmark and model in the field of engineering”. The pandemic has prevented her from collecting this award, which she wants to be a tribute to the female engineer. In that same year she received the National Industrial Engineering Award, in the Professional Career category, an award promoted by the General Council of Official Associations of Industrial Engineers.

There are numerous interviews that have been done to her in recent years, in them she indicates that she has not felt discriminated against because she is a woman but that she has had to work three times more, because women are “looked at with a magnifying glass” and “they are not tolerated to be wrong”.

Mª Teresa is undoubtedly a great example to follow, a professional model and a benchmark for all young engineers, and, from my point of view, for all young women who want to dedicate themselves to this profession. Her life shows that it is possible to achieve what one wants, but that it takes tenacity, dedication, work and effort. We must thank Mª Teresa for showing us the way and her unconditional support for the advancement of women in any branch of engineering.



Stella Moreno Grau

Full Professor of the Technical University of Cartagena