Shivali Gulati is a high school junior from California. In December 2018, she founded Girl Genius Magazine, an online magazine created by aspiring girls in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) which provides a platform for girls to learn about women in STEAM, showcase their projects, studies, and works, as well as connect with girls nationwide. Today, her team connects 90+ girls interested in STEAM from over 21 different countries.
Question 1 : Could you tell us about what inspired you to start Girls Genius Magazine?
I created Girl Genius Magazine after first-hand seeing the impact of girls being involved in STEM programs, such as Kode With Klossy, Girls Who Code, and #BUILTBYGIRLS. I really liked how each of these organizations provided girls with the resources needed to learn more about technology and connected girls regionally. However, in my community, there weren’t many girls interested in technology and I wanted to create a platform where girls from all over the world with like-minded interests could connect and work on projects, despite being 3000 miles away from one another.
Question 2 : Teamwork is key to making the dream work. How did you build your team and how do you communicate with them? What makes a good team member? How do you manage such a large team effectively?
In the early stages of Girl Genius Magazine, I primarily reached out to high school girls at my school interested in STEAM and spoke at many female-oriented clubs to bring awareness to this project. In order to reach more girls globally, our team promoted Girl Genius Magazine on platforms such as RoundPier, Instagram, and several slack groups, which led to our great team of 90 girls. During issue one, I communicated with our team through group chats which was initially difficult since I was trying to manage several girls on different time zones for the first time. By leading this team, I can say that a good team member shows support for every team, proposes their ideas to better Girl Genius Magazine, and has strong communication skills. Although Girl Genius Magazine is an online community, we stress the importance of getting to know everyone on your team and learning about their interests. For issue one, I was the only one managing the team, but now I have 13 amazing directors who supervise each team and ensure that each team is productive and has a say in the upcoming issue.
One thing I learned from starting Girl Genius Magazine was trusting others to help you accomplish your vision and I’m very happy to be working with girls who are motivated and believe in the message we are establishing with our magazine.
Question 3 : What are the interdisciplinary aspects that go into the creation of the magazine?
With over thirteen teams, I can simply say, there are many! Each team has its own interdisciplinary aspects, but the main aspect would be the intersection of technology and fields of STEAM since everything is produced online. Whether you’re a writer or a financial manager, everything is done using online platforms, so it is vital that our team members have strong technology skills in order to successfully contribute to our team.
Question 4 : How were you able to market Girl Genius Magazine and get readers?
I truly could not have done this without our head of YouTube, Priyanshi Nigam, the partnership team, and my social media team! Before issue one was published, Priyanshi and I connected and she began our first YouTube series, “Letting Off Steam”, which interviews women in steam. As our video series gained traction, she helped Girl Genius Magazine establish partnerships with leading women in technology organizations, #BUILTBYGIRLS and Wogrammer, which helped introduce Girl Genius Magazine to over 32,000 girls. From our first takeover on #BUILTBYGIRLS, I realized how powerful our message was and immediately focussed on how to market our magazine through Instagram, Linkdeln, Facebook, and YouTube. Currently, our partnership and social media teams are working on highlighting female-driven initiatives/role-models on our Instagram and acknowledging female accomplishments-- including members of our team and our following! The support our initiative gets would not be possible without their hard work!
Question 5 : How do you come up with content to feature on your YouTube channel?
Produced by Priyanshi, our first video series, “Letting Off Steam”, was made to highlight women in steam and provide the female youth with examples of women succeeding and thriving in steam-related fields. As our YouTube team expanded, our team members always think about what they, as aspiring females in steam, wish they had been exposed to earlier, and content they would like to watch relating to steam. Girl Genius Magazine is preparing to launch more video series, like STEAM ADVICE, which will benefit our community and help them learn more about working in steam fields.
Question 6 : On the Girl Genius Website, it mentions providing mentors to middle schoolers around the world. How does Girl Genius plan on doing that?
With issue two, Girl Genius Magazine (*spoiler*) is looking to feature middle school females interested in steam and share how steam has impacted them. This was important to me, as I learned a lot more about computer science in middle school and wish that I had access to and known about resources/programs, like Kode With Klossy. In the upcoming school year, our team is planning to launch a mentorship program at local middle schools in California and New York, in which a Girl Genius team member will help a middle school female explore a field of her interest. For example, our magazine interview director, Rebecca Kanter, plans to help her sister learn more about interviewing students. Having a female mentor can really impact an individual’s perspective on steam and we are looking to help girls feel empowered to pursue steam by providing them with a person they can talk to about their interests.
Question 7 : What are some of Girl Genius’s proudest moments?
I think the proudest moment we had was the launch of issue one. It was definitely a lot of hard work, but the positive feedback we received made every single minute of it worth it. A moment that really impacted me was when one of my friends in elementary school who I lost contact with dmed our Instagram and said that in elementary school, she stopped going to science fairs since she didn’t see females there, and reading Girl Genius Magazine made her want to pursue science again.
That right there is the exact impact our team strives to make on every female exposed to the content we make and that really gave me motivation to continue this initiative.
Another moment that really impacted my team was when my high school recognized our California team at their board meeting and my closest friends (even my best guy friends) came and supported us.
Question 8 : Outside of Girl Genius, what other interests and hobbies do you have? Have any of those hobbies had any influence on Girls Genius?
Outside of Girl Genius Magazine, I run my own initiative, Coding4Kids, which teaches over 150+ kids nationally critical coding concepts. I really like teaching coding to kids, since that’s how I was introduced to computer science in elementary school. I definitely think this initiative has prompted me to start our middle school mentorship program since I’ve personally experienced and seen how initiatives like C4K encourage students to pursue stem related fields. I also love to feature initiatives started by females in our magazine (I promise there will be one in this issue), as I love reading about other females providing services to their communities to help them learn more about steam. When I’m not teaching, you can probably find me competing at local debate tournaments, attempting to build robots through my school’s robotics team, and CADing random objects. Being a part of my school’s robotics team and engineering & technology academy has helped me realize that our magazine should cover more fields within engineering, since I hadn’t been exposed to the various fields within engineering until I joined my school’s academy.
Question 9 : What is some advice that you have for aspiring social entrepreneurs?
It is never too late to start. I had this idea when I was looking at magazines in SafeWay and I pursued it. Not starting is always a bad decision, even if ultimately the project fails. You learn SO MUCH from starting your own initiative, like managing a team, communication, setting goals. You learn how to be a leader and that’s commendable. But also, don’t give up. I know that sounds super cheesy, but there was a time when I thought Girl Genius Magazine wasn’t going to succeed, but I can assure you that with hard work, you will succeed. I never thought that we would be featured on #BUILTBYGIRLS and collaborate with initiatives like, AI HACKS and Wogrammer. It just goes to show that starting and persevering can get you very far.
Question 10 : What’s your favourite thing to watch on T.V. ?
I will always watch How I Met Your Mother, anything on Food Network (esp. The baking shoes), and MasterChef. I also love watching The BreakFast Club and Make Happy By Bo Burnham when ever I need a pick me up.
Follow Girl Genius on their platforms!
Instagram: @girlgeniusmag ( https://www.instagram.com/girlgeniusmag/ )
Twitter: @girlgeniusmag ( https://twitter.com/girlgeniusmag )
LinkedIn: Shivali Gulati ( https://www.linkedin.com/in/shivali-gulati-456614189/ )