q Greco Virginia TOTEM

The Women who run the biggest machine ever built by Man
The complexity of LHC and the women in charge of it

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Virginia is from Lecco but she graduated in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pisa. Today she's one of the engineers in charge of the design and installation of the electronic system which acquires data from TOTEM, the smallest LHC experiment. Scientific research has always been her passion and ambition: while only 29 years old, she has already gained a lot of valuable experience working for several international laboratories, from Chicago's Fermilab to CERN. Yet she also finds the time to study acting, to be a radio journalist, to dabble in politics and associationism for environmental causes and international cooperation.

"I'm afraid that in Italy male chauvinism snakes its way even into scientific environments. No, I've never been discriminated against, but among my university colleagues I got the idea that, as a woman, they thought I would not be able to reach their level of expertise. I'm convinced that it's true when they say women have to work twice as hard to prove themselves to be better than their male counterparts before they are taken into consideration. Now I work in an international environment, which seems quite open. But the risk of bumping into prejudice is always just around the corner, so I'm constantly on guard. "