Granddaughter of Sweden's first female engineer visited VERA day

VERA day 2023.

Gunilla Resare, granddaughter of Sweden's first female engineer, is here surrounded by girls interested in technology on VERA day in Science Park Towers.

Gunilla Resare, granddaughter of Sweden's first female engineer Vera Sandberg, visited the VERA day, which is organized by the School of Engineering (JTH), Jönköping University (JU), to get more girls and women interested in technology.

VERA day 2023.

The picture that Gunilla Resare shows here is from the 50th anniversary with Vera Sandberg and her coursemates at Chalmers. Vera Sandberg was then 72 years old.

“It is great fun to come here and talk about Vera and inspire young woman to choose an engineering education,” says Gunilla Resare.

About 30 high school girls participated in VERA day, which was held at both JTH and Science Park Towers in Jönköping on 29 November. They got to listen to and meet young women who either study to or work as engineers, they visited the companies Coloreel and Fagerhult, and took part in tours of JTH and Science Park.

"Many companies are specially looking for female engineers"

Gunilla Resare, who has written the book "Vera Sandberg - Sweden's first female engineer", was inspired after meeting the young girls who are interested in technology at the VERA day.

“It is good that many girls want to study technology, but even more are needed if we want to solve future challenges. Companies are in great need of engineers, and many are specifically looking for girls,” she says.

After passing a special math test that only she had to take and not the male students, Vera Sandberg started at Chalmers in 1914 as the only woman among 500 men and three years later graduated as an engineer.

"Why not a women"

“She was quite relaxed about her choice of profession and asked herself why a woman could not enter that career. She studied hard and worked hard and saw great value in collaborating with others. It's great that Vera has become a symbol and source of inspiration for many women, but during my upbringing she was "just" a fantastic grandmother. It is as an adult that I have reflected on the fact that she was also a fantastic professional woman and role model,” says Gunilla Resare.

She says that Vera Sandberg was inspired by the family's paper mill and that it led her to become an engineer. Vera Sandberg was a curious and fact-oriented person who was very interested in science. She found it exciting to experiment and find solutions and had a strong belief in lifelong learning. What would then Vera Sandberg herself have thought of the VERA day?

"She would have been happy and maybe embarrassed"

“She would probably have been happy and maybe a little embarrassed. She was rather modest as a person and she would have thought that there was too much focus on her as a person with VERA-day,” says Gunilla Resare and laughs.

Ida Hellqvist and Desiré Åberg, who study the natural science programme at Brinell Gymnasium in Nässjö, found it rewarding to participate in the VERA day and inspiring to hear Gunilla Resare's stories about Vera Sandberg.

"It was cool and very brave of her to take the step and become the first female engineer. You get inspired by that," says Ida Hellqvist.

Both of them are interested in studying at JTH and think it is good that the VERA day draws attention to the need for more girls and women in the technology industry.