50 years ago...

After completing her university studies in Italy, where it was not all that rare to come across female physicists, Maria Fidecaro arrived at CERN in 1956. Although men were certainly in the majority, they were all just colleagues and gender was irrelevant. 

Giuseppe and Maria Fidecaro in 1963, surrounded by spark chambers, inside the detector for the experiment on the decay of a rho meson into a pi meson and a photon.

Maria Fidecaro is no stranger to CERN and the field of research, having watched them develop over many years. "In the early days we worked in small teams of no more than two or three people", she recalls. "As in Italy, I was not the only woman involved in research at CERN. Men and women alike, our common goal was to understand physics and conduct experiments."

Clearly, juggling an exciting job and looking after a family of four children didn't make for an easy life. "At that time society was different and there were few crèche facilities. But looking after a family when the mother works isn't necessarily any easier today than it was then", she says.

The key to overcoming the problems of everyday life has not changed over the years: "You have to continue to work towards your goal. For us it was physics research, and we pursued it with great enthusiasm. When all's said and done, it wasn't really a job, it was a passion", concludes Maria.


by Laëtitia Pedroso