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#GEANTwomeninSTEM: Sabrina Tomassini

In honour of Women & Girls in Science Day and International Women’s Day, two important days marked by the United Nations and celebrated across the globe, we are celebrating the women in our community. As our wonder women are involved in many fields, we decided to focus on specific fields and this year we are highlighting the women in Trust & Identity! Like everything in the world of GÉANT, our trust and identity team is a strong collaboration between women (and men!) all over the globe.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to our colleagues working for T&I, which shows perfectly in this series.

Let us introduce you to Sabrina Tomassini, proving the world women can rock STEM.


Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Sabrina Tomassini I am a Senior Network Engineer at GARR, where I work in network planning. I handle user solutions design and development for GARR members and partners.

What is your study and professional background?

I graduated in Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Rome La Sapienza in 1998, with an experimental thesis in image processing and transmission. Since then, I have been working in data transmission networks both for commercial TELCO operators and then for GARR, the Italian Research and Education Network. Within GARR, I joined the network planning and engineering group in 2007 and I was immediately involved in the  process of collecting the users’ requirements. My skills are focused on network architecture and service design. I’m currently following initiatives dedicated/promoted to the Italian Ministries of Health and Cultural Heritage, as well as to the research institute community. I’m also involved in GARR member and partner relations management.

How did you end up in STEM?

Passion for mathematics and science starts from the very beginning of my school carrier. I remember my hesitation in choosing university faculty: after my scientific-oriented high school studies, my interests were in chemistry and physics. In the end, I decided for engineering and after I chose to specialise in telecommunications.

Are there any challenge(s) you face as a woman in STEM (personal, in the sector, in T&I)?

When it comes to my personal experience, my very first challenge came from my mother, who didn’t share my decision of pursuing engineering studies, as she thought it was not an appropriate career path for a woman. She would have preferred me to become a teacher, as in her opinion it would have ensured an easier balance between career and family. As a result of her position, I became even more determined in my decision. Today, the environment of telecommunications and network technologies is still very unbalanced from the point of view of the gender, certainly more in the private sector than in the academic one. Therefore, I think that many women need to accept the challenge to undertake this career before being a woman in the telcos becomes “normal”, as it already happens in other sectors.

What is it you do in the field of T&I?

In 2013 I participated in the “IdP in the cloud” pilot project. It aimed to design a new service for the biomedical research community that would facilitate their enrolment in the Italian digital identity federation IDEM. This experience was so successful that GARR decided to extend the solution to other research communities and was shared as a good practice with other NRENs in Europe and beyond.

Name your greatest experience or achievement in T&I work

The success of “IdP in the cloud” is one of the greatest achievements I earned in the T&I work. The pilot was presented in occasion of several international conferences and GARR was subsequently contacted from other organisations who wanted to implement it. I must say I am proud of this result.

Any inspiring words for our readers?

One of my two boys, both passionate in arts and humanities, once told me: “Mum, I am not like you, with a head full of numbers!”. Clearly, I thought, the passion for STEM is not a matter of gender. So, if you like scientific or technical subjects, just follow your path.


From all the men and women at GÉANT, we would like to show our gratitude to the female career tigers, young professionals, researchers, students, mothers, experts, in short all the hard working women contributing to not only trust and identity, but all the work we are doing in R&E networking.

Make sure to keep an eye on the GÉANT blog and social media channels and follow the campaign under #GEANTwomeninSTEM.

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