Throughout the history there were many women who created; while some were famous, the others weren’t even noticed, admired or acknowledged as much as men. But they just as much deserved the spotlight. So, for our penultimate day of Women’s Week, we’re going to present to you three amazing women who dared to create in a man’s world. All of them lived in the 20th century and have inspired people everywhere to build and make new things. They created in the world that wasn’t ready for them. #CreateLikeAGirl



Jovanka Bončić-Katerinić (1887-1966) was an architect born in Niš. She was among the first women to get an engineering degree at Darmstadt University in Germany. In 1909, the year that she enrolled, was the first year that women were allowed to enroll at that university. There were only five women attending lectures that year. In 1913, she graduated with not one but two degrees: one in architecture and one in engineering. After the studies she married a Ukrainian engineer and moved to Russia. However after the Russian Revolution, they fled back to Belgrade.


Bončić-Katerinić was mostly active in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the interwar period. She helped construct Banski Dvor in Banja Luka and several elementary schools and high schools. Bončić-Katerinić also designed a hospital in Despotovac, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and co-designed the Faculty of Law building in Belgrade. She was awarded Order of St. Sava and the Order of the Yugoslav Crown in the late twenties. She retired after the Second World War. She died in a fire in her own apartment in Belgrade in 1966.

Even though there’s a street in Darmstadt and a geology award in her name in Germany, she’s

rarely mentioned in Serbia nowadays.  



Zora Petrović (1894-1962) was a famous Serbian expressionist painter. Just like Bončić-Katerinić, she was mostly active in the interwar period.


Petrović attended a high school in Pančevo, but wanted to go to an art school. Her father prohibited her from studying art believing it would be a waste of time. He wanted her the follow his footsteps and be a merchant. It is said that she didn’t leave the house for three years just to prove a point to him. She finally enrolled at the Belgrade Arts and Crafts School in 1912. In the next decade she continued her education in Budapest and briefly in Paris in André Lhote’s studio.


She painted interiors and portraits. She is most famous for her portraits of nude women. She traveled across Serbia and painted peasant women. Petrović devoted her life to painting and never married. Instead of following the tradition of the European women artists, she developed her own style; strong and bold in color and style.


Apart from painting, she spent most of her life teaching in several Belgrade schools. In 1952 she became a professor at the University of Arts in Belgrade where she taught until her death in 1962. Her works can be seen as part of the collection of Pavle Beljanski in Novi Sad and the Museum of Modern Art in Belgrade.




Milena Pavlović Barili (1909-1945) was a famous Serbian painter and poet.

She was a kind of a wunderkind; she knew how to read and was learning French and Italian when she was just five years old. By the age of seven, she was writing her first poems, mostly about death. Her Italian father was a famous composer and poet, and her mother was a descendant from Karađorđević dynasty.


She studied art in Belgrade and Munich. She spent most of her life abroad in famous capitals such as Rome, Paris and London. She befriended Jean Cocteau and André Breton.

Her first exhibition in Belgrade was met with approval. In the following years, she had many exhibitions all over Europe.


She mostly painted portraits and biblical themes. Her works often include veils, angels, statues and Harlequins. She also published her book of poetry in Italy in the 1930s.


Milena Pavlović Barili was also looking for a teaching job in her homeland, but nobody wanted to hire her. In 1939, she decided to move to the United States. She continued to paint, but also started to draw illustrations and design costumes. Some of her illustrations were published in “Vogue”. She spent her remaining 6 years in New York, where she died after a horse riding accident. She was only 35 years old. After an exhibition in Belgrade in the 50s, she gained more popularity in her homeland.



Aljoša Mudri