The woman most often credited as “the first” female neurosurgeon is Sophia Ionesco (photo left), who trained and practiced in Romania (deceased March 21, 2008, age 88). Her father preferred her to be a "young lady and housewife" but fortunately she had a supportive mother and when a close friend died from a brain infection, her career choice was set. She started medical school in Bucharest in 1939 and after training in neurosurgery, practiced for nearly 50 years before failing vision (!) forced her retirement.
She was instrumental in establishing Romanian neurosurgery as part of "The Golden Team" (including her husband).
She received numerous honors in her lifetime-and left a legacy that inspired many women to consider careers in neurosurgery, especially those throughout eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (more on these inspiring women will follow soon).