Livia Cevolini was 36-years-old when she founded Energica Motor Company, an Italian manufacturer of high-performance electric-motorbikes. Energica is based in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, also known as “Motor Valley” and home to automotive greats Lamborghini, Maserati, Ferrari, and Ducati.
Cevolini says she overcame significant obstacles to achieve success with her company. She has had to work hard to be accepted as an engineer and leader in the historically masculine field of motoring.
“The automotive industry, including motorcycles, is mainly male-dominated. But, it’s changing,” says Cevolini from Energica’s headquarters in Italy. “There are more and more women that are passionate about motors, and that are demonstrating that they can be very good at the business.”
Cevolini studied engineering at the University of Modena in the early 2000s and estimates that 90% of her classmates were male. She says that the minority female student-body in her program was generally more determined and committed than the male engineering students, but that they were not given the benefit of the doubt about their intellect and abilities.
“Professors and male classmates acted as if the girls couldn’t get the lessons, but of course that was not the case,” says Cevolini.
She recalls her professors specifically asking the female students if they understood the material covered in class, yet not asking the male students the same thing, assuming that the boys had grasped the concepts. When the female students replied that they understood, the lessons would then move on to other topics. Continue reading at Forbes.com.