“LLNL is a great place to work because of the unique mission, exciting science and engineering, and fantastic work-life balance.”
For Lynda Tesillo, Women’s History Month means more than reflecting on the past.
Her path to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory started with studying engineering at a university — a decision which put her in a unique position within her family.
“We had limited resources growing up, particularly when it came to affording an education,” Tesillo said. “At the time, my mother was the only one in my family with a college degree, and she encouraged me to pursue higher education.”
Despite initially feeling as though she was “going in blind,” Tesillo went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. She joined the Lab in 2015 shortly after graduating. Now she serves as a weapons designer in the Weapons and Complex Integration Directorate.
“Being a Latina woman in STEM, it’s apparent that ‘minorities’ are still minorities in the workplace,” she said, adding that’s not to say that diversity efforts have been unsuccessful.
“Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has made remarkable strides in diversity, equity and inclusion,” she said. “I’ve thankfully never felt excluded here on account of my racial or gender identity, but there are still necessary improvements to be made for women and minorities in the workplace broadly.”
With both technical and managerial roles, Tesillo feels she has a platform to draw attention to the challenges facing underrepresented groups. Having gained a larger voice in Laboratory decision-making processes, she proudly advocates for staff with different backgrounds and experiences.
As co-chair of Women in Science and Engineering and the early-career employees groups, Tesillo said further efforts in diverse recruiting and outreach benefit the Lab. Expanding the Laboratory’s reach to diverse universities, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and strengthening community ties can increase recognition and attract candidates with unique insight, she said.
“In the spirit of Women’s History Month, I enjoy the opportunity to celebrate the powerful women who paved the way for people like me,” she said. “But more than that, we must reflect on that history and ensure we learn from it so that we continue to improve the experiences of others going forward.”