Women We Love 2022: Jessica Esquivel

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Jessica Esquivel

Dr. Jessica Esquivel has always been drawn to science. As a young girl, she spent hours watching the Sci-Fi Channel with her aunt. She was then inspired to make a career out of her passion after watching Jodie Foster’s character (an astrophysicist) in the film Contact. “Seeing a woman scientist taking charge, leading research, it was fascinating” she tells GO. “I started walking around saying, ‘I’m gonna be an astrophysicist when I grow up!’” Esquivel’s youthful declaration was pretty close to prophetic. Today she is a particle physicist working as an Associate Scientist at Fermilab. She is one of fewer than 100 Black women in the U.S. who have a PhD in Physics. Working in a field historically dominated by white men, Esquivel—an Afro-Latinx neurodivergent lesbian—has dealt with adversity and setbacks just by being vocal and unapologetically true to herself. Her journey into a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career is demonstrative of how important representation is. “That’s one of the main reasons why I was drawn to challenge the idea of who a scientist is, what we look like, and what our jobs consist of,” says Esquivel. She advocates for creating equitable spaces in physics and focuses on the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in her community engagement efforts. “It’s important to me that young Black and Brown girls see the representation of scientists that look like them so that they can envision themselves studying the secrets of the universe.” –LC

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