Girl Genius Magazine | Issue Four

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Layout by Abby Liang Art by Amy Liu (left) and Sena Atesoglu (icons)


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editors' letters

Chloe Yan and Shivali Gulati

meet the team GG Issue IV Team

team highlights

Agnes Mar, Athena Yao, Cassie Areff, and Garima Sharma




Anya Kamali, Aslihan Özüyilmaz, Lina Chihoub, Nicole Wolff, Serina Khanna, and Trisha Chinnimeni



colorism in the media & workplace


the media's role in empowering underrepresented communities

Annabel Truong, Cassie Areff, Deanna Sharpe, Karina Makhani, and Shanzay Awan

Anaya Patel, Karina Makhani, Lina Chihoub, Marturia Yami, Rupambika Tripathy, and Serina Khanna

myth-busting the model minority

Anaya Patel, Angela Lee, Anna Truong, Annabel Truong, Ritu Atreyas, and Shanzay Awan

exploring cultural identity in STEM



femininity vs. stem: a clash that shouldn't exist Anya Kamali, Deanna Sharpe, Lily Gong, Maddie Sullivan, Raitah Jinnat, Sasha Tunsiricharoengul, and Vivian Wang

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internalized misogyny & gender norms impacts on identity Aditi Sharma, Aslihan Ă–zĂźyilmaz, Hannah Del Barrio, Izzy Lapidus, Lily Gong, Linda Duong, and Tracy Chen

the intersection of steam and the lgbtq+ community

Delilah Belmont, Maddie Sullivan, Marturia Yami, Raitah Jinnat, Riley Cooke, and Tracy Chen

defacing discrimination & instilling Identity

Andrea Cardiel, Anna Truong, Bidhi Kasu, Nicole Wolff, Rupambika Tripathy, and Trisha Chinnimeni



black leaders: nyla choates interview

Andrea Cardiel, Angela Lee, Delilah Belmont, Linda Duong, Riley Cooke, and Sasha Tunsiricharoengul


seven personal STEAM stories


redefining the hacker stereotype


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Aditi Sharma, Bidhi Kasu, Cassie Areff, Hannah Del Barrio, Izzy Lapidus, Ritu Atreyas, and Vivian Wang



Ishita Khambete

my mother taught me Leslie Kim

finding empowerment: a mixtape

Celine Vazquez


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Layout by Abby Liang, Katherine Vo, and Michelle Yu

final note

Girl Genius Issue IV Directors


Girl Genius Partnerships Team

editors' letters Only several weeks away from graduating middle school, I sit in my English class, pencil and paper in hand and thoughts running through my mind. My teacher assigns our class a final essay on identity and the values we believe in. Explaining the assignment, he says, “Life has no meaning when you don’t follow your passions or stand up for your beliefs." While my classmates write away, I struggle to get something down on my paper and think of ways to describe myself. I felt like I had a less meaningful identity compared to others who already knew what they wanted to do with their lives. All throughout my freshman year of high school, I felt pressured to find something about which I was truly passionate. Exploring different fields, I joined my school’s robotics team, where I developed a greater interest in computer science. Despite the large learning curve, I realized my love for coding. However, as one of the few female programmers on the team, I was surprised to notice the prominent lack of female representation in STEM. This motivated me to join Girl Genius in my sophomore year, where I connected with an amazing community of like-minded girls. Together, we grew to become a powerful community working towards the same mission— empowering girls in STEM. By branching out to new opportunities and interests, I discovered many of my passions and developed a better idea of the values for which I stand. Fast forward to today, I now realize that discovering your identity isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time to find your true passions and core values; it takes time to discover who you are. Once you do, find a community of people who support you, and run wild with your passions.

Sincerely, Your Co-Lead Director,

Chloe Yan Art by Lillian Marsh (bottom) and Sena Atesoglu (top)


"people who need people are the luckiest people in the world" Growing up in a hyper-competitive environment, I was dumbfounded when I heard this phrase for the first time. The Bay Area’s normalization of burnout, stress culture, and selfreliance has encouraged students, including myself, to avoid asking for help, even when we desperately needed it. Joining a binding program to see what one was interested in was viewed as a cry of help rather than a form of learning and exploration. At my high school, this mindset was embraced by thousands of students who made a practice of ridiculing the threeyear academy classes that allowed individuals to explore careers in business, engineering, and hospitality. Despite several classmates discouraging me from taking engineering classes and encouraging me to add more AP courses to my schedule instead, I chose to follow my gut and applied to dedicate the next three years of high school to answer the burning question: what am I going to do with my life? For the past 450 school days, I, along with 120 prospective engineers, have walked into school hearing the sound of 3D printers building layers, filament being loaded, and most importantly, collaboration at its prime. Behind each print was a series of conversations on filament colors, functionality, commands we forgot how to use, and the ongoing complaint of the printers not working. My friends and I spent our time iterating, redesigning, and testing over and over again. From learning a new command on AutoCAD, to applying for our first internships, to enduring physics tests, we all needed help, and E-Tech became a safe space for us to make mistakes and try, try, try again. Every day, I asked for help and slowly grew into an extroverted and open-minded person who raised her hand more often than not. As someone who has experienced more failure than success at the moment, it was important for me to recognize that collaboration and asking for help is truly a strength rather than a weakness. Impostor syndrome when raising your hand or not understanding a question is normal, but the best thing we can do is try. I’m happy I did and I hope you enjoy this issue, where all 260 of us acknowledged the power in asking your community for a helping hand.

Sincerely, Your Lead Director,

Shivali Gulati Art by Jennifer Zhu



meet the

g ir l g e n iu s Layout by Cally Amisola, Cynthia Zhang, and Izumi Vazquez Title art by Sophia Wu




Director: Athena Yao Adelina Rose Gowans Amy Zhang Liu Angela Cameron Anum Ahmad Ariana Noghreh Armada Veraepalli Deya Liao


Director: Garima Sharma Aditi Sharma Anaya Patel Andrea Cardiel Angela Lee Anna Truong Annabel Truong Anya Kamali Aslihan Özüyilmaz Bidhi Kasu Cassie Areff Deanna Sharpe Delilah Belmont Hannah Del Barrio Ishika Kohli Izzy Lapidus Karina Makhani

Lily Gong Lina Chihoub Linda Duong Maddie Sullivan Marturia Yami Nicole Wolff Raitah Jinnat Riley Cooke Ritu Atreyas Rupambika Tripathy Sasha Tunsiricharoengul Serina Khanna Shanzay Awan Tracy Chen Trisha Chinnimeni Vivian Wang

girl genius issue 4

Isabella Lombardo Ivvone Zhou Jennifer Zhu Joyce Guo Julia Chiappe Kristine Huynh Lauren Stephenson Lauren Yoo

Lillian Marsh Manouk Pipistrella Streiff-Hallisey Mia Kotalik Ming Wang Rheann Tracy Sadie Rose Honchock Sanya Gupta

Director: Emma Quinn Akshaya Pai Anne Gvozdjak Aracely Alvarado Caitlin Chao Celine Vazquez Cheryl Yee Esha Potharaju

Esther Duong Ishita Khambete Jacqueline Wu Katherine Wei Leslie Kim Lotus Lee Megha Govindu Megha Subramanium

Sena Atesoglu Sofia Ruiz Sophia Wu Tara Ayer Tara Mukund

CREATIVE WR ITERS Rhea Sarkar Riya M Cyriac Samyukta Iyer Sarah Mirsaidi Shamiya M Siddhika Didel Suhani Ramchandra Yarency Lizbeth Avelar

LAYOUT DESIGNERS Director: Abby Liang Amy Li Avneet Grewal Cally Amisola


Cynthia Zhang Izumi Vazquez Katherine Vo Michelle Yu

Director: Jyothikaa Ramann Abigail Jolteus Andrea Gonzalez Angela Ye Anusha Wangnoo Anvitha Reddy Aviva Gornick Caleigh Fleites Chanah Park Chloe Deng Devanshi Shah Emilka Jansen Harveen Brar Ifeoluwa Aigbiniode Isabelle Tran Julia Zacharski Kathy Nguyen Kendehl Taylor Kristine McLaughlin Kriti Sundaresa

Nuha Mozumder Vanessa Guo

Lauren Volkodav Lavanya Sharma Mary Magunson Michelle Ly Nandine Elizabeth Hilman Neha Kanneganti Neha Kunta Rachel Wu Ramisha Parvez Rebecca Kanter Samantha Lee Samantha Moy Shaguffta Kaur Shirley Jin Sophia Lourdes Gabriel Sophie Krajmalnik Stephanie Yen Sydney Lin Vivian Chu Xueyi Lu



BLOGGERS Director: Maddie Ramos Destiny Ortiz Emma Benyaminy Isha Kalpaguri

Marian Caballo Nadine Ordaz Neyla Lorena Palacios Nikki Agarwal

Niti Reddy Siddhi Kabadi Valerie Ho Xin Yi Li

SOCIAL MEDIA Director: Andrea Gonzalez Abby Fischler Ashlyn Roice Ayushi Kate Bhavika Yendapalli

VIDEO EDITORS Director: Cassie Areff Angela Fan Anna Alexandra Cruz

Director: Nandini Goyal Aanya Pratapneni Aishwarya Arvind Amy Wu Aneeta Thokkadam Belle See Chelsea Poppleton Damilola Awofisayo

Gabriela Banaag Kayla Goldstein Samie Baclig

Mihika Vankamamidi Riyana Dutta Saanvi Chilakapati Sachi Khurana Sahithi Ankireddy Sharvari Dhongade Sriya Mikkilineni Trisha Rajesh

Donna Prince Fay Lin Gautami Kankipati Katie Rock Maria Cuevas Mitali Mittal Natalie Eng Priya Inampudi

VIDEO PRODUCERS Director: Zoe Ngo Aashi Mendpara Angela Fan


Director: Anum Ahmad

Art by Tara Ayer

Nayeli Pena Selina Liu Varshini Gopinathan Vedika Jawa


PARTNERSHIPS Directors: Agnes Mar & Fara Yan Abby Fischler Amari Coffee Charlotte Nahley Daania Sharifi Genevieve Chin Manasi Mishra Marazal Bahrainee Islam

Chelsea Bishop Jayla Butler Malia Wendeborn Marlene Flores

Anila Khan Savri Gandhi

NEWSLETTER Director: Ritu Atreyas



ART · BLOG · CREATIVE WRITING · EDITING · GRANTS · LAYOUT DESIGN · PARTNERSHIPS · SOCIAL MEDIA · WRITING · VIDEO We are looking for female changemakers interested in spreading education and awareness of STEAM fields to girls all over the world through our platform.

Layout by Avneet Grewal Art by Julia Chiappe (lower) and Sofia Ruiz (upper)



Art by Ivonne Zhou Layout by Abby Liang


AGNES MAR Director Of Partnerships Agnes is a high school junior from Palo Alto, California. As Partnerships Director, she organizes social media partnerships and virtual events to reach more girls worldwide. She is passionate about women's empowerment through STEAM and hosts her own podcast, She Chat, which shares the stories of inspirational female change makers. What is the most influential lesson you have learned as an aspiring woman in STEAM? I’ve learned that you aren’t alone in your STEAM journey. There are other girls who are also the only female in their CS class, face impostor syndrome, and have moments where they have no idea what they’re doing. Being a part of Girl Genius, Kode with Klossy, and other all female environments has given me a community of girls from around the world who have encouraged me to keep going.

Click here to listen to Agnes' podcast, She Chat! 8

GARIMA SHARMA Director Of Writing Garima is an incoming freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she is pursuing a dual degree in Computer Science and Advertising. As Writing Director, she manages the article development and writing process ranging from approving topics to assigning weekly tasks. She is interested in the integration of technology with social sciences and enjoys organizing hackathons. What is the most influential lesson you have learned as an aspiring woman in STEAM? Throughout any difficulty there is always someone there to help. Whenever I am struggling, my family and friends are always there to support me through the ups and downs. In addition, as I become more involved with STEAM, I have discovered a community that is willing to provide advice on subjects ranging from networking to calculus. If you are an aspiring individual in STEAM I would encourage you to join groups (Girl Genius’s Slack for instance) in order to interact with likeminded people that can not only support you in tough times, but can help you discover new opportunities.


ATHENA YAO Director Of Art

Athena is an artist, aspiring neuroscientist, and advocate for mental health awareness and equality in STEM. She is an undergraduate student at Duke University, where she plans to pursue a major in neuroscience with a minor in visual arts, engaging in neurodegenerative disease research, and continuing to learn, educate, and inspire. What is the most influential lesson you have learned as an aspiring woman in STEAM? Throughout your journey, you will face so many challenges: from failure and discrimination to selfdoubt, impostor syndrome, burnout, and days when you feel lost and confused and don't have the energy to keep going. The path won't always be easy—you'll often question yourself, whether that's while struggling on that math question as voices in your head echo (untrue) stereotypes of "women just aren't as good at STEM", wondering whether you’re truly making a difference (the answer to that is typically yes, even if you can't see it yet), or simply feeling overwhelmed (trust me, impostor syndrome is perfectly normal and nobody, and I mean nobody, completely has it all together). I want to let you know that you matter and you can do it—there's seriously no limit to what you can and will achieve. At the same time, don't forget to take care of yourself; you should be in STEAM because you genuinely love what you're doing (and if you don't, may I be one of the first to tell you that setting priorities is a necessity and it's okay to quit things that aren't truly worth it?) and it's essential to find time to breathe, spend time with friends and family (your support network!), and enjoy the journey. 10

CASSIE AREFF Director Of Video Editing Cassie is a rising high school senior who is passionate about closing the gender gap in STEAM, and more specifically computer science. She also loves to thrift and sew clothes, and encourages others to try to shift to sustainable, ethical fashion. What is the most influential lesson you have learned as an aspiring woman in STEAM? The largest lesson I have learned as an aspiring STEAM woman is to find a support system. This does not need to be someone in the same field as you, that is definitely amazing if they are, but someone who you can lean on when you face internal doubts and imposter syndrome. They will be someone to hype you up and highlight your true abilities and potential when you are facing challenges. Not only will they help you excel, but you will also be there for them as you both grow from your failures and successes together. These connections can help you feel less isolated as you navigate fields that are currently dominated by men, and feel empowered to continue even when you feel out of place.



THE MODEL MINORITY Written by Anaya Patel, Angela Lee, Anna Truong, Annabel Truong, Ritu Atreyas, and Shanzay Awan Edited by Isabelle Tran, Kriti Sundaresa, Lekha Pattim, and Rachel Wu Layout by Katherine Vo



Art by Angela Cameron

he term “model minority” often refers to a minority group that seems particularly successful compared to other minority groups. Though its definition could be applied to various groups, it is mostly used when discussing race. The model minority is usually designated to Asian-Americans, including Pacific Islander-Americans, who are praised for their seeming academic and economic success contrasted with other racial groups. This success is typically measured by income, education, low criminality, and family stability, but ignores the diversity within the Asian-American community. The model minority myth is an argument to minimize racism’s role in the struggles of other racial groups. It was used by white politicians internationally to proclaim racial democracy and nationally to pit minority groups against one another. The portrayal of the model minority is inaccurate, for it ignores individual struggles pertaining to different ethnic groups within the AsianAmerican community. It is a facade to boost the reputation of the country and emphasize the failings of other groups.


However, the model minority myth doesn’t only affect Asian-Americans: it perpetuates anti-blackness in America. Many use it as “evidence” to prove that if other minority groups “worked harder” and had “stronger family bonds” then they could be the model minority as well. This is hugely erroneous since neither race experiences the same racial prejudice. It distracts from the fight for racial equality and creates a racial hierarchy where Asian-Americans are at the top. This myth ultimately affects all minority groups, as it tries to soften racism and racial inequality in American society.

This myth ultimately affects all minority groups as it tries to soften racism and racial inequality in American society.

The term model minority has been used as a tool to justify the oppression specifically of African-Americans. In the 1960s, when the African-American population was demanding equal rights, the model minority myth was used to vilify them. This idea was asserted that Asian-Americans are successful despite being a minority because they are hardworking, unlike African-Americans. This myth has also created an illusion where Asian-Americans believe that the country’s system does not have a racial bias. This illusion has prompted Asian-Americans to not stand up for equal rights for African-Americans because they have internalized the view that the system does not disadvantage minorities. However, we must realize that the concept of the model minority is a myth generated to justify oppression and the Asian-American community has been used as “an accessory in the anti-blackness that is woven into the DNA of America.” Instead of being reduced to a “model” which supports systematic racism, AsianAmericans should use their privilege to amplify the voices of African-Americans who have been significantly oppressed under the lieu of the model minority myth. 13



The American entertainment industry normalizes the inaccurate and unbalanced portrayals... emphasizing their intelligence and strong work ethic.

he Asian image is primarily crafted by the American entertainment media, who have little understanding of Asians themselves. They have not considered how such images would impact the Asian-American community. The American entertainment industry normalizes the inaccurate and unbalanced portrayals of this group. AsianAmericans are given stereotypical roles in television media, causing people to believe in the model minority myth as it is subtly fed to them in everyday media. They are given roles that emphasize their intelligence and strong work ethic, further reinforcing the model minority myth. One example is from a popular teen romance movie: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. The main character is an Asian-American female, given the stereotypical “model minority” image; she tends to prioritize her academic success more than her nonAsian counterparts. She is deemed unpopular, socially awkward, and academically centered, which are all stereotypical “Asian traits” the media portrays.

Art by Anum Ahmad


Asian-Americans are often expected to excel in STEAM fields. However, that expectation lends itself to stereotypes of nerdy Asian-Americans. In terms of the college application process, research shows that in order to receive equal consideration by colleges, AsianAmericans must outperform other races. In an experiment conducted by the Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 79 college admissions officers, after being asked to rate college applications based on factors including social and academic competence and contribution to a college's diversity, gravitated toward applicants who participated in counterstereotypical Asian activities. Students who did not participate in stereotypical Asian activities were perceived as more socially and academically competent and able to contribute to the college's diversity. It has become ingrained in our society that all Asian-Americans are flourishing, invalidating the struggles of AsianAmericans who don’t fit into this rigid generalization. While it’s easy to internalize the model minority myth, it’s necessary to break the cycle by recognizing and speaking out against these stereotypes. Creating discourse around the struggles of the AsianAmerican community and acknowledging the needs of individuals are the first steps towards addressing larger systemic issues of poverty and mental illness. Asian-Americans need to break from the internal oppression of the model minority and recreate the narrative in order to create tangible change – beginning with our communities, families, and selves.

Asian-Americans need to break from the internal oppression of the model minority and recreate the narrative in order to create tangible change.


cultural identity EXPLORING

in stem cultural identity CULTURAL IDENTITY


Written by Anya Kamali, Aslihan Özüyilmaz, Lina Chihoub, Nicole Wolff, Serina Khanna, and Trisha Chinnimeni

STEM is an ever-expanding field designed to blend together multiple disciplines and encourage innovation, but many minority groups are underrepresented. Racial minorities contribute to STEM but are consistently paid less for the same work. In the U.S. specifically, Native American, Black, and Latinx scientists and engineers tend to be disproportionately selected for highereducation programs, despite their vast contributions. Disparities also exist among immigrants in the U.S. who choose to pursue STEM professions and education, as some are unable to afford the same education that American families can, both for themselves and for their children. While two-thirds of the STEM workforce is composed of white individuals, their Asian counterparts constitute about 13%. Despite this, the model minority myth overrepresented Asians in STEM. A 2018 Pew Research Center study concludes that Blacks, despite constituting 11% of the national workforce in the U.S., make up only 9% of all STEM workers, with the same ratio for Hispanics being 16% to 7%. This contrast is especially visible in engineering, where 73% of workers are white. In a workplace dominated by whites, minorities are deprived of the chance to promote different cultures in their fields.

According to a study from UT Austin, ⅓ of minority students ended up quitting STEM majors; 40% of Black and 37% of Latino students also switched majors before earning a degree. But for whites, the rate of changing majors is 29%, and dropping out is 13%. As minorities are “more likely to come from low-income families” and don’t have “access to the academic resources that traditionally help support students through to completion,” this leads to absences and underrepresentation in the STEM workforce of more than 17 million jobs.

"Minorities are deprived of the chance to promote different cultures in their fields." 16


Representation is crucial for many, as it’s hard to discover what you want when you have no role models or no one to ask for advice. Seeing people from your community graduating, going off to university, and living their lives independently can give you courage and hope to achieve your own goals. “See it, be it.” Sometimes you need to see what is possible in order to believe it, understand it, and do it.

"SEE IT, BE IT." However, representation needs to be as realistic and nuanced as our society. With the help of technology, women take action in the face of adversity and pursue careers as engineers, leaders, teachers, and politicians. They dare to be brave and inspire young girls of their endless potential, with countless benefits. Despite having little support or being financially disadvantaged, these young girls know they can make it because of their inspirations: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michelle Obama, and Malala Yousafzai.

They realize they’re capable and don’t need to be ashamed of being proud, ambitious, and confident. Whether on the screen, in the educational system, or on digital platforms, we want to see realistic and genuine human representations that take these incredible, but deeply human women as their own role models, like we do.

Capable. One example of the minority experience in STEM is the Arab community. Arab countries produce a large number of STEM professionals (particularly women--a study by the UNESCO found that 60% of engineering students in countries surrounding the Persian Gulf were women). However, do a quick Google search and you’ll see that there is little data about representation in Western countries. Names like Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a prominent Iraqi-American pediatrician who is credited with exposing the 2015 Flint, Michigan water crisis, and Dr. Najat Khelil, a PalestinianAmerican woman who was the first to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in the state of Texas, are relatively unknown. Furthermore, nonprofit organizations often overlook the community, as Arabs must typically identify as White in Census reporting.

Between false stereotypes and a lack of community/governmental support, it can often be challenging for young Arab women to feel encouraged to enter the fields of STEM.



If you’re looking to meet women in STEM while learning about the industry, Built By Girls is an excellent way to do so. Built By Girls, which is open to students from ages 15-22, gives young women and non-binary students a supportive space to connect with professionals through several programs, including the WAVE Mentorship Program.



Social media is another great way to find STEM resources! Many organizations have their members or other inspirational women “takeover” their Instagram stories and post about their experiences. We recommend our Instagram, @girlgeniusmag, where we ask professionals to talk about their passions. The National Society of Black Engineers (@nsbe) is another wonderful organization that posts about high school and undergraduate opportunities on their Instagram. — Edited by Emilka Jansen, Kathy Nguyen, Neha Kanneganti, Samantha Lee, and Samantha Moy Art by Sanya Gupta (p. 16) and Sofia Ruiz (p. 17) Layout by Izumi Vazquez

Be sure to follow us to stay updated on the latest takeovers!


COLORISM IN THE MEDIA AND THE WORKPLACE Written by Annabel Truong, Cassie Areff, Deanna Sharpe, Karina Makhani, and Shanzay Awan Edited by Anusha Wangnoo, Ifeoluwa Aigbiniode, and Kristine McLaughlin Art by Amy Liu (p. 19) and Armada Veraepalli (p. 21) Layout by Cally Amisola


By definition, colorism is discrimination that favors people with lighter skin tones over those with darker skin. If we dive deeper, we see its roots intertwined with slavery. Colorism began when slave owners had children with slaves, producing biracial children. Because light-skinned slaves were oftentimes family, slave owners showed favoritism towards them with assignments of household chores while dark-skinned slaves were forced to do grueling labor. After slavery was abolished in 1865, colorism was still prevalent within the African-American community. Lighter-skinned African Americans were given certain privileges over their darker-skinned counterparts, one being job opportunities (Thought Co). This is why a majority of the upper-class African population were light-skinned, ultimately causing light skin to be linked with privilege. Even today, some darker-skinned individuals develop feelings of low self-esteem due to their skin color, proving that colorism continues to have notoriously detrimental effects. Hollywood has been dominated by colorism. The National Museum of African American History and Culture states that throughout history, “[w]hen African Americans were cast, lighter skinned actors were preferred for more prominent roles. Roles for darker skinned individuals generally played on or amplified racist stereotypes” (Farrow). Zendaya has acknowledged the privilege of her lighter skin: “I'm Hollywood’s acceptable version of a black girl.” Recently, the industry has begun to start discussions, often unintentionally, regarding the lack of casting of dark-skinned people of color (POC) in movies and television in favor of light-skinned minorities who adhere to eurocentric standards. A contemporary example would be the character of Princess Jasmine in the live-action adaptation of Aladdin, played by Naomi Scott who is half

brown and half white and thus much lighterskinned than the original animated version of Princess Jasmine. This colorist approach tends to affect female characters more, setting up beauty standards where lighter skin color is put on a pedestal. The favoring of lighter skin in the media also transfers into the beauty industry. Skin lightening products have become a billion dollar industry, and are extremely popular in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa (McEvoy). With advertisements presenting lighter skin as "more beautiful," along with the internalized bias from the media, colorism can become ingrained into viewers’ mindsets. The makeup industry also constantly shows its bias towards lighter skin, as their products are geared towards lighter-skinned people. For the longest time, people with darker skin tones weren't able to find products that matched their skin tones. This is starting to change; however, some makeup companies still reflect the bias towards lighter skin tones. For instance, Tarte’s Shape Tape Foundation range only offered 3 of 15 shades for darker skin tones. 20

Similarly, YSL All Hours Foundation range only had 3 of 22 shades. Although many beauty brands are coming out with a wider range of products for all complexions, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to colorism in the beauty industry. Colorism is especially prominent in the workplace. In a study done by Katherine DeCelles and colleagues, it was discovered that job applicants who mask their race on resumes are more likely to get an interview. Companies are twice as likely to give minority applicants interviews if they hide their race rather than reveal it. Whether or not the company claims to value diversity, this practice is present. When identical resumes were sent out, one including ethnic information and one not, twenty-five percent of candidates with resumes that lacked ethnic information received interviews. Only ten percent were called back with their ethnic background on their resume, even though they had identical qualifications. Even the name of an applicant can make a significant difference. Applicants with white names needed to send about ten resumes to receive a callback, while those with

African-American names needed about fifteen. Clearly, the hiring process encourages colorism in the workplace, due to their compliance and lack of diverse recruitment. With recent movements to diversify the workplace, employers have been hiring "token" POC workers to "promote" racial equality. Through this practice, known as tokenism, employers select light-skinned individuals to be the lone representative of their respective racial communities. This undiscussed “-ism,� colorism, uplifts light or fair-skinned POC in comparison to their darkskinned counterparts, especially dark-skinned women. Furthermore, studies have shown that dark-skinned individuals are more often subject to harassment, microaggressions, and exclusion from their companies. For example, lighter-skinned workers are often praised for their looser hair textures while dark-skinned workers are criticized and told to assimilate by straightening their hair. Employers must check the intent behind their hiring methods and celebrate diversity through other company practices and aesthetics.

Overall, colorism in the workplace is perpetuated through practices like tokenism, which reflect the implicit skin tone biases that spread through beauty standards and the media.


Girl Genius








The Media's Role in EMPOWERING Underrepresented Communities Written by Anaya Patel, Karina Makhani, Lina Chihoub, Marturia Yami, Rupambika Tripathy, and Serina Khanna

Edited by Gabriel Sydney Lin, Lavanya Sharma, Michelle Ly, and Sophia Lourdes Art by Ariana Noghreh Layout by Michelle Yu

The media has undoubtedly shaped our perception of modern-day society. We are heavily influenced by television, film, music, fashion, and social media, whether we choose to admit it or not. The media has the ability to empower underrepresented communities by encouraging and implementing diversity. Throughout our childhood, we would only see Disney princesses who were customarily white and blonde. Thankfully, as a more productive conversation takes place, we can see a paradigm shift in the way underrepresented communities are portrayed in the media. The silver screen has begun to introduce more diverse characters from underrepresented groups such as LGBTQ+, Black, Latinx, and Asian communities. When Moonlight, a comingof-age drama directed by Barry Jenkins, became the first all-Black cast and the first LGBTQ+-related film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, the win was felt by every Black and queer individual who had ever been discriminated against. In 2018, Crazy Rich Asians, a romantic comedy starring Constance Wu and Henry Golding, and Black Panther, an action-packed Marvel movie fictionally set in Wakanda, highlighted talent from minority actors and boosted cultural pride.

The Latinx community will receive necessary representation in Lin Miranda’s film adaptation of In The Heights starring Anthony Ramos. This demonstrates that the cinema is progressively becoming a melting pot of sexualities, genders, ethnicities, and identities—a platform thriving with diversity to empower unrepresented communities. As the world has become more accepting, the fashion industry has also evolved to reflect those changes. Designers have reexamined their practices as people demanded to see people of different sizes, genders, and ethnicities. Historically, fashion has influenced drag, but drag now inspires fashion. Miss Fame was the first drag queen to walk in the Cannes Film Festival. While starring in RuPaul’s Drag Race, she was an undeniable inspiration for new queens. Through her work with fashion brands such as Marc Jacobs, she’s normalized drag in the fashion world. As time has gone on, the fashion industry has matured to reflect the people of real life. Although the industry has become more inclusive, there is still a lot of work to be done to portray minorities in fashion.


Issue IV

The most powerful way the media has empowered minority populations is through social media. In the decades when minorities were largely excluded from mainstream television, social media provided a way to break out into the world. Underrepresented communities could shatter stereotypes with one Tweet and build a new image for themselves with a single post. Take 37-year-old Sean Williams, who combated the myth of the “missing black father� by igniting a movement to post happy photos of Black dads with their children. Social networking platforms have enabled minority activists to mobilize their communities. A 2018 study from the Pew Research Center found that 80% of Black Americans value social media platforms as a way to magnify lesser-known issues. The recent prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement is a prime example of this—a short video depicting police brutality can quickly take the international spotlight. This global attention has already motivated milestone changes in the corporate world; for example, Adidas announced that at least 30% of its new US positions will be filled by Black/Latinx people.

Although the media continues to change for the better, there is still a long way to go before true diversity is achieved. Many black creators on the social media app TikTok demonstrated their struggle with the lack of diversity on the platform. Many users experienced racism with the algorithm; their videos were not as easily spread to other users. When the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd were blocked, users staged a virtual protest. Creators changed their profile pictures to a Black Lives Matter symbol and white creators temporarily stopped posting in order to spotlight Black creators. While TikTok eventually assured users these issues would be fixed, the structural discrimination within the platform demonstrates the progress that has yet to be made within social media. Since the start of Hollywood to modernday media, the inclusion of minority communities has been greatly undermined. Outside of film, this exclusion can also be found in fashion/social networking platforms. Thankfully, this discrimination within media industries has increasingly been at the forefront of American minds, sparking discussions about the experiences of minority creators. As a result, companies are finally attempting to take action by righting many wrongs. Many more stories created by diverse storytellers have recently hit the big and small screens, giving a voice to the people denied an opportunity to speak their truth. However, to this very day, minority communities face visceral rejection and censorship from many creative spaces. While the task of challenging these systems is daunting and difficult, it is important that creators like Shonda Rhimes and Rebecca Sugar exist. Despite all odds, we can succeed towards a brighter future. 23

Femininity vs. STEM

A Clash That Shouldn't Exist Written by Anya Kamali, Deanna Sharpe, Lily Gong, Maddie Sullivan, Raitah Jinnat, Sasha Tunsiricharoengul, and Vivian Wang Edited by Caleigh Fleites, Devanshi Shah, Kendehl Taylor, and Vivian Chu Title art by Lauren Stephenson


Our society has consistently undermined womxn by devaluing traditionally feminine expression and interests. Being “too loud” and “too passionate” has become a stigmatized trait within femininity, considering that womxn are supposed to be perceived as reserved and meek. This is done through ways ranging from subtle yet condescending microaggressions to the explicit denial of opportunities. Naturally, these subtle actions have trickled into the workplace and into STEM careers. Womxn are belittled and underestimated when trying to enter a male-dominated field. Historically, this is seen with Lydia Villa-Komaroff, a trailblazer in the field of molecular biology. Her own advisor told her women didn’t belong in chemistry, yet Villa-Komaroff thrived regardless. With this attack against femininity, some womxn have resulted in associating STEM fields with being "tomboy" and not with traditional femininity. The major consequence of this perpetuated misogyny is that it curates a hostile culture against feminine interests within STEM. When womxn enter STEM fields, they feel as though they must overcompensate to maintain the opportunities they have and often have to work harder for a lesser reward. On a more experimental level, a 2016 study from the University of Colorado Boulder demonstrated the inverse proportionality between what society regarded to be the ability to be a scientist and upholding qualities associated with womanhood. In a test where 80 pictures, half men and half womxn, of faculty members at elite research universities were shown, the participants thought that womxn with a more feminine appearance were less likely to be scientists and were better suited to be early childhood educators. Such biases extend to a much larger scale, undermining females’ freedom to maintain their identities in the workplace and pushing them to let go of what they define as femininity. As womxn drift further away from their intrinsic values with the aim of feeling safer in a STEM-based environment, they assimilate into a more masculine culture only to reaffirm the dichotomy already in place. Art by Isabella Lombardo (p. 25 & p. 26)


With both the standards that society imposes in regards to what traditional ‘femininity’ should look, smell, and feel like and the rigid expectations that an individual involved in STEM must mold themselves to fit into, it is only natural that impostor syndrome begins to plant seeds of doubts in the minds of womxn in STEM. As defined by the Harvard Business Review, Imposter Syndrome is a ‘collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.’ Womxn in STEM who possess some typical qualities associated with ‘femininity’ are often the target of sexbased discrimination, which only further contributes to feelings of inadequacy associated with Imposter Syndrome. Speaking as one of the Girl Genius writers, I remember being one of only two girls in a Science Bowl club of twenty students. I was never called on, it was common for the boys to talk over me, and there were never any seats in the front of the classroom available. I began to dread Science Bowl meetings as they were no longer a sanctuary for learning but rather a reminder that my thoughts and voice were subject to discrimination just because of my gender. Even though this feeling of inferiority is something that womxn in STEM are forced to face, we must recognize our worth, strength, and brilliance as womxn and retain self-confidence when entering any male-dominated, field, room, or conversation. Since the rise of female empowerment movements, it has become apparent that females are figuratively swimming against the current; society has created a social construct of having STEM be a male-dominated field. Females have fostered uplifting communities in which they are resilient and see adversities as opportunities for growth. In my personal experience with facing adversities as a female in computer science, I embrace my role as a female in STEM. Although there are only five females in my AP Computer Science class, I have challenged these roadblocks and transformed them into opportunities for growth. We are presented with statistics of how the STEM world is male dominated, but behind the scenes, we see that females are working together as we transcend the connotations behind STEM. To reiterate, when we discuss womxn in male-dominated fields like STEM, the narrative shouldn’t be focused on whether the womxn fit the status quo. Womxn are inherently feminine, so tropes such as how girls dress and act, etc., are now outdated. These factors that supposedly define what makes a womxn feminine have caused them to question themselves and their place in society, but womxn are resilient and capable. Rather than conforming, womxn continue to challenge this social construct’s narrative by calling out the stereotypes and joining male-dominated fields. Thus, womxn are redefining femininity as any and everything womxn make it out to be.

Layout by Vanessa Guo



Written by Aditi Sharma, Aslihan Özüyilmaz, Hannah Del Barrio, Izzy Lapidus, Lily Gong, Linda Duong, and Tracy Chen Edited by Aviva Gornick, Neha Kunta, and Shaguffta Kaur Art by Tara Ayer (p. 28) and Rheann Tracy (p. 29) Layout by Avneet Grewal


Gender norms are molds in which society expects individuals to fit according to their assigned sex. These include stereotypes in clothing, interests, appearances and personality; they’re hard to eliminate, due to the fact that they’re ingrained since childhood. Misogyny is prejudice or hate towards women, and internalized misogyny is the “involuntary belief” of said misogynistic stereotypes perpetuated by society. These patriarchal ideologies in many cultures end up disadvantaging women in their personal and professional lives, one example being the discredit of women in STEM. The picture of DNA that changed biology, the process of replica plating which enabled the study of antibiotic resistance, and the discovery of pulsars (remnants of massive stars that went supernova) were all breakthroughs that contributed to significant scientific understanding in biology and physics. So, who were the people behind the camera, microscope, and telescope? Rosalind Franklin, Esther Lederberg and Jocelyn Bell Burnell, respectively. The inspiring women whose work contributed to crucial progress in areas of science which seemed a distant dream, and yet, robbed of the recognition for their progress and, therefore, Nobel prizes. The simple reason they faced these indignities? Gender. The credit for all three discoveries was passed to their male counterparts without any mention of the work of the women. The notion that women could study science or be recognized with Nobel prizes was not one that society could fathom in the 1900s. The suffocating constraints of societal expectations and gender norms robbed a plethora of women in STEM of renowned success.


Internalized misogyny is prevalent in girls from early adolescence. Girls are subconsciously taught from a young age that when they make a mistake on a test that it’s their fault, but when boys make mistakes it’s the test’s fault. For instance, we’ve seen girls in our in-school math and science classes begin sobbing upon seeing their exam scores, crying to their teachers about how they’re not good enough. We’ve also seen boys, upon getting their tests back, march straight up to their teachers demanding that they deserve the points because the question was “worded weirdly." This contrast showcases how girls and boys view themselves differently in STEM completely subconsciously, which relates to how men have been more recognized in STEM because their own self-doubt does not play against them. For the most part, boys don’t think twice about their abilities to pursue STEM, whereas girls succumb to impostor syndrome, continuously having to remind themselves that they belong in STEM. Because these beliefs are mainly subconscious, women don’t realize that they hold themselves back and cannot always correct themselves. Over 60% of women in STEM in the US report that they have to provide more evidence of competence than others to prove themselves. They also recognized that women started to lose opportunities as their abilities and competence were questioned when they have children. Their colleagues often assumed they would lose their drive after they have had children - which has proven to be false. Furthermore, HBR found that the “Tug-of-War” was especially interesting: women early on in their careers felt as if they needed to distance themselves and compete with other women due to discrimination by male counterparts. While some misogynists derive their beliefs from societal influences, others display adverse behavior as a reflection of one’s childhood trauma. It’s been conveyed that many misogynists develop their antifeminist beliefs over time as a result of oppression, most during childhood, involving a female “antagonist.” Following a traumatic event, these strong emotions intensify as they’re processed by the amygdala. Involuntary beliefs of misogyny are then produced as the hippocampus engrains the trauma into the brain’s memory storage, impacting the prefrontal cortex that dictates a person’s processing, learning, and acting on situations.


These internalized and misogynistic images may cause women and minorities to experience impostor syndrome. These feelings of inadequacy and fraudulence can be debilitating, causing women to doubt themselves, even if there is no reason to. This is why stereotypical gender norms need to be torn down instead of upheld by society. There are strategies for women to overcome impostor syndrome in their everyday lives; it’s important to separate feelings from fact as well as normalize mistakes. By doing so, women can help eliminate internalized doubt and grow from their past experiences.

HERE ARE SOME HANDSON TIPS FOR YOU TO TRY: Affirmations: Start your day by looking in the mirror and saying. "You got this!“ Overthinking the right way: When you start overthinking, try to think of a positive outcome. Ask yourself, "What if it works out?" Visualize your success: Remind yourself of what you’ve already accomplished before facing a new challenge. Don’t be ashamed of being proud. Dare to be brave rather than perfect: Sit with your feelings, even when negative ones arise. Then, release them. Journaling your thoughts might help you learn more about yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others: Focus on yourself, and only yourself. Not every day is the same and that is alright. Listen, work on, and care for yourself.


THE INTERSECTION OF STEAM AND THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY Written by Delilah Belmont, Maddie Sullivan, Marturia Yami, Raitah Jinnat, Riley Cooke, and Tracy Chen

The LGBTQ+ community is a diverse group made of people who don’t conform to cisgender, heteronormative standards. Historically, members of this community have faced systemic oppression and criminalized existence, which still exists today in 75 countries.

Monk Gratian declaring sodomy the worst of all sexual sins. In 1250, homosexuality incurred the death penalty in most European states. Leonardo Da Vinci was charged with sodomy with three other men in the 15th century, but acquitted because no witnesses came forward.

While the United States often touts more progressive attitudes, gay marriage was only legalized federally in 2015, and it took until June 1st, 2020 for the Supreme Court to rule that federal laws must protect LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. Despite slow social progress, amazing queer activists such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Audre Lorde tirelessly worked to increase inclusion in art, literature, and politics. But what about STEAM? While we are starting to see more LGBTQ+ representation in media, the community still faces discrimination and erasure in STEAM.

Code breaker Alan Turing was also a victim of discrimination due to his sexual orientation. Turing was an innovator for computer science and played a crucial role in World War II, decrypting ciphers from Nazi Germany’s Enigma machine. Because of this, the Allies were able to track Germany’s deployments, and thus refine their strategies towards winning the war. He also furthered society’s progress in AI and NLP with the Turing Test, which tested a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligence equivalent to a human. Despite this, he was charged with “gross indecency” in 1952 for his relationship with a man named Arnold Murray, leading to Turing’s chemical castration and his apparent suicide at age 41.

One such figure was Leonardo Da Vinci, whose identity was overlooked in history books despite his role in the Italian Renaissance. We know him for the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, but through a practice called queer erasure, history books fail to mention his sexual orientation. Dating back to the 1000s, Italy had a pattern of punishing its queer citizens with Italian

Although there are several notable LGBTQ+ figures in STEAM, the discrimination and violence they faced are not isolated incidents. The future of the STEAM field is at risk because LGBTQ+ students are at risk. 31

On college campuses across the United States, LGBTQ+ students experience discrimination because of their gender or sexual orientation. Students are nearly twice as likely to face harassment in comparison to their cisgender, heterosexual peers, and are less likely to consider their campus welcoming and safe. This discrimination is doubled for racial minorities in the LGBTQ+ community, as they are often subject to racism in addition to harassment related to their gender or sexuality. These statistics reveal a deeply-rooted culture of homophobia and transphobia that extends even to the more progressive spaces of higher education. The lasting effect of the discrimination against LGBTQ+ students is that they are more likely to consider dropping out because they feel unsafe and unsupported in their community or field. Not only do LGBTQ+ people deserve the opportunities STEAM has to offer, but we need them now more than ever: their spot in the field is shrinking. A recent study that compared graduation retention rates of queer and straight students found that 71.1% of heterosexual students graduated in a STEAM field while only 63.8% of LGBT students graduated with the STEAM major they began with in college. Although STEAM has become more inclusive, LGBTQ+ individuals are driven out due to hateful rhetoric and ignorance. STEAM is also a highly competitive field that pushes to separate private life because it makes a person “less competitive” for doctorates, grants, and research. This expectation is harmful because it can cross a fine line into discrimination. One way to help combat this is to have training in universities and graduate settings for teachers and students alike. STEAM has become a "boys club" in a sense; without awareness, these unfair expectations can harm the LGBTQ+ community.

Although there’s a long road towards equality, the presence and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in and out of STEAM is only growing, and every victory, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. For all our LGBTQ+ readers, have hope and keep working—your voices deserve to be heard. To our straight, cisgender readers, remember the importance of being a true ally and actively supporting your LGBTQ+ counterparts. Continue to educate yourself and others, donate to pro-LGBTQ+ organizations, and listen to your LGBTQ+ friends, family, and coworkers when they share their experiences. Don’t cherry-pick your support; your silence is deafening. — Edited by Andrea Gonzalez, Beatrice Smorto, Chloe Deng, and Rebecca Kanter Art by Lillian Marsh (p. 31), Sophia Wu (p. 32) Layout by Abby Liang and Michelle Yu

Pro-LGBTQ+ organizations to donate to: The Trevor Project: LGBTQ+ Fund: Snap 4 Freedom: LGBTQ+ Racial Justice Fund:


Defacing Discrimination and Instilling Identity Written by Andrea Cardiel, Anna Truong, Bidhi Kasu, Nicole Wolff, Rupambika Tripathy, and Trisha Chinnimeni Edited by Angela Ye, Harveen Brar, Nadine E. Hilman, and Shirley Jin Layout by Amy Li

What is discrimination and its types? Discrimination is dealt on the basis of fundamental components of identity, including one’s culture, religion, and race. Marginalized minorities are the majority when it comes to experiencing discrimination which is solidified by long-held biases and prejudices. Of the many “minority groups”, Asians are often unfairly stereotyped, Blacks continue to bear hardships resulting from historical oppression, Muslims are stigmatized as “terrorists”, etc. Social privilege awarded to the "dominant group" often results in disparate opportunities in the workplace and other facets in society. Everyone is human, yet many fail to realize the inherent injustice in discrimination based on unalterable traits.

Art by Ming Wang

Sexuality discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfairly because of their sexual orientation, as the result of embedded homophobic attitudes and a lack of adequate legal protections. Victims of this discrimination are not only mistreated but also physically attacked, making the range of sexuality discrimination particularly extensive and damaging. Gender discrimination happens when an individual is treated differently on the basis of sex and/or gender identity, rather than their individual skills. It may take the form of sexual harassment, catcalling, and more. It’s further exacerbated by the poor representation in the media, which serves to reinforce patriarchal gender stereotypes. Another type of discrimination is disability discrimination or ableism: when a person with a mental or physical disability is treated unfairly due to their disability. This may entail difficulty getting hired due to a disability, harassment regarding the behaviors or physical features of a person with a disability, or refusal to purchase a good or service because of that disability.


Systemic discrimination refers to policies or practices within an organization or area that puts a group of individuals at a disadvantage. For instance, refusing to hire individuals based on race, sexuality, or religion, and restricting access to high-level jobs are examples of systemic discrimination. This is closely related to institutional discrimination, which refers to discrimination perpetrated by social and political institutions. Similar to systemic racism, institutional racism involves discriminatory behavior embedded in the policies and practices of an institution. For instance, the Jim Crow Laws in the South mandated racial segregation and put African Americans at a disadvantage. Systemic, institutional, and societal discrimination are synonymous, for they all involve discrimination that’s ingrained into the practices of society. Microaggressions customarily include brief verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities or insults. They can be intentional or accidental, but can still perpetuate hostile or derogatory intentions. Microaggressions undoubtedly have detrimental impacts on an individual’s identity, irrespective of intention. Microaggressions can take the form of backhanded comments when in reality, they contribute to larger stereotypes. They negatively affect one’s identity, often embarrassed individuals about their race, religion, culture, gender, and/or sexuality. Microaggressions may creep into our minds and impact our actions without our conscious awareness, which can be prevented by assessing any implicit biases we may have to ensure they don’t negatively affect anyone’s identity.

How can you maintain your identity? Embracing identity is a crucial step in promoting societal change and requires you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Although challenging, it’s necessary to diminish discrimination. Embracing your identity can be a long process that’s different for everyone but there are a few tips individuals can take into consideration. These include speaking to others with similar identities, learning your own history from either the media or uncovering past experiences. Furthermore, learning how your identity impacts others can help you find value in your background! Finding peace within all aspects of your identity is a lifelong journey, but little steps, such as learning more about yourself, your history, and your impact on others can help make huge leaps in this process! Learning to accept what makes you unique is a catalyst through which diversity is promoted. Once we can proudly accept our own differences, it becomes easier to learn and love the differences of others. Instilling a sense of peace in our identities can help to overcome discrimination based on our differences.

y t i t n e Id o e Gu Joyc y b Art

There are several ways to actively combat discrimination, whether in the workplace or community. To start, seek out support systems in people you trust. Despite discomfort, discrimination is a harsh reality that won’t disappear without tough conversations. Change doesn’t happen within comfort zones. If you’re experiencing discrimination that’s affecting your mental health, remind yourself you don’t deserve to be facing discrimination or microaggressions. If needed, prioritize your health and seek professional help. Know what other people do or say doesn’t define you, and remember to love yourself and your identity.


black lives matter black lives matter black lives matter black lives matter black lives matter black lives matter BLACK blackINNOVATORS lives matter AN INTERVIEW WITH NYLA CHOATES


The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement was created in 2013 in response to the acquittal of the murderer of Trayvon Martin, an innocent, unarmed 17-year-old Black boy shot to death while walking home. Although this sparked the BLM movement, Black people have constantly faced systemic oppression, discrimination and violence, and been dehumanized through slavery, segregation, redlining, and more. With recent cases of police brutality and Art by Ming Wang

Black individuals’ experiences coming to light, the BLM movement has been stronger than ever. BLM is committed to “combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy” as proclaimed by the official BLM website. Thousands of protesters have mobilized nationally and internationally in the cause against oppression of Black communities. 35


"As Black youth, there are so many times that we let the naysayers get in our heads and a majority of the time it's because they don't want to see us succeed. We give them power by being quiet and not taking action. Let’s continue to prove them wrong and be the change."

Art b y Dey a Lia o

Nyla Choates, a 17-year-old incoming high school senior, has played an instrumental role at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement as an organizer of a peaceful protest in Milpitas, a host on Black Excellence, and a founder of My Roots are Rich, a nonprofit that empowers, inspires, and educates people by reinforcing the rich culture of African Americans and their contributions to America. On the topic of what #BlackLivesMatter means to her, Choates writes, “The Black Lives Matter means hope. Hope that one day we will no longer have to say the phrase. Hope that there will be justice against the injustices happening each day to the black community. The BLM movement affects my personal life in every way. From seeing a new police brutality video, hashtag, or wrongly incarcerated black man, the Black Lives

— Nyla Choates, 17-year-old activist, organizer of a Milpitas peaceful protest, host on Black Excellence, and a founder of My Roots are Rich

Matter movement is and will be my everyday life until I’m no longer in fear of being the next person added to the lists of names.” She has shared her journey with the BLM Movement from her perspective as a Black woman in America with Girl Genius in this interview. — Edited by Anvitha Reddy, Ramisha Parvez, Stephanie Yen, and Xueyi Lu Layout by Abby Liang

To read more about what Nyla has to say about being a Black leader from her doubts, motivations, advice, processes and more, please visit the Girl Genius Blog. 36




a preview of seven personal

Art by Lauren Yoo (p. 57) and Rheann Tracy (p. 58) Edited by Abigail Jolteus, Ragalina Palaka, and Sophie Krajmalnik Layout by Cynthia Zhang

Personal STEAM Stories - Notepad File





Izzy Lapidus

Shivali Gulati

When I was seven years old, my best friend told me that she wanted to be a scientist when she grew up and I laughed in her face. A scientist? At that age, my understanding of a scientist consisted of an old white dude in a lab coat with puffy hair and glasses; a girl dreaming of becoming a scientist might as well have been a joke.

Vivian Wang

Shivali Gulati

Thrown headfirst into computer science, I did not expect myself to finish this year successfully. I had already planned an escape route in case I could not handle the course load or felt that I did not fit in the classroom.

Ritu Atreyas

Shivali Gulati

I’ve always jumped at the opportunity to talk to new people, but in front of crowds, teaching Java to a classroom full of kids? Oh boy.


Personal STEAM Stories - Notepad File





Cassie Areff

Shivali Gulati

My physics class was almost always dragged off topic, creating an environment where I was nervous to interrupt the disruptions. After realizing how the negative environment prevented me from fully participating in the class, I was inspired to help foster a positive environment for other girls pursuing STEAM.

Aditi Sharma

Shivali Gulati

‘’I am terrible at physics; I won’t ever be able to get higher than a B.’’ This was one of the things I convinced myself to believe after yet another rough mechanics quiz. For many months, I had been struggling with physics, and felt isolated in class, as I was the only girl and none of the boys saw my thoughts as relevant. I realized that collaboration was something I was missing and strove to find a community that brought back my passion for physics.

Bidhi Kasu

Shivali Gulati

“Bidhi, you’d probably enjoy dress-up more than this” was the defining sentence of my Kindergarten experience. Every time I would try to find a seat at the science and building stations during playtime, I was led away by my teacher to a station that she claimed would be a better fit for me. These constant diversions discouraged me, and I became extremely timid about pursuing my interests for many years.

Hannah Del Barrio

Shivali Gulati

As a student at an underfunded, noncompetitive school, I had no idea that these prodigious achievements could be done, much less by teenagers. Immediately, I felt overshadowed and knew I was less capable of reaching such great heights; with only my junior year left to discover and act upon my passions, I capitulated, telling myself this was impossible.

Click here to read more on the blog!


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redefining the hacker stereotype

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TechTogether's mission is to create safe spaces for gender-marginalized youth to build, learn, and hack on projects. They aim to increase the gender-diversity and inclusivity of the hackathon community. To learn more about TechTogether, Garima Sharma and Emma Quinn from Girl Genius interviewed Fiona, co-founder of TechTogether. Q1: How did the idea of TechTogether form and how do you think TechTogether has changed since it was first founded?

Fiona Whittington, Sreeya Sai, and Lisa Vu founded TechTogether (then SheHacks) to advocate for greater gender diversity within the hackathon community. According to the MLH, women only made up 26% of the hacker community in 2019. The initial idea was to create safe and welcoming hacking spaces for women through hosting gender-focused hackathons. Gender-

focused hackathons typically get more first-time hackers and are a proven way to increase the gender diversity of the hackathon community. After realizing that gender-focused hackathons were in such a high demand, we expanded upon our initial idea by helping students host their own gender-focused hackathons across the country. Since our founding in 2018, TechTogether has launched chapters in Boston, New York, Atlanta, and Seattle. Our community organizers advocate and work towards achieving gender-inclusivity within the hackathon community in their own cities and college campuses. Q2: If you were to give advice to someone who wanted to organize a hackathon, what would it be?

Organizing a hackathon can be overwhelming, especially if you are doing it on top of school. If you want to organize a hackathon, we highly 39

recommend trying it out. It isn’t as scary once you get started. There are so many people in the hackathon community that are willing to help out, so it’s almost impossible to get lost once you get started. Both TechTogether and the MLH are great resources for helping you learn how to host your own event or find an event to help out. Focus on the experience of the people you are looking to serve. Hackathons have a special energy because people come there to learn new things or build out ideas; you can harness this innovative energy to help your hackers create some really amazing things by providing targeted resources to help guide their process. For instance, since our hackathons are diversity-focused, we know that this is something our hackers care about so we make sure to have programming that speaks to this, such as panels hosted by people of color in tech or design-for-diversity workshops. Also good snacks and music go a long way.

across the country to volunteer their time to either organize the events or attend as workshop leaders, panelists, and speakers. We owe a lot of the impact we’ve been able to make so far to these individuals. As for the future, we hope to continue spreading our mission by launching more chapters throughout the country and around the world. We hope to get the attention of the powerful forces in within tech industries - large companies, lawmakers, influential individuals - that can use our work and insights gained to help to carry out our vision of a more equal and equitable future in tech. Q4: How is TechTogether adapting to COVID-19? Are you planning on doing any online hackathons?

Yes! Our entire 2020-2021 hackathon season will be virtual. You can check out the full list of upcoming virtual events here.

Q3: Since TechTogether has formed, over ten thousand people have joined the community. Did you expect TT to grow this big and where do you see TT in the future?

TechTogether was initially intended to be a one-time event, but the response to that first event showed very clearly that there was a need for what we were doing on a larger scale. Unfortunately, our mission resonates with so many people because there is an entrenched culture of homogeneity in the tech industry that leaves many different groups on the margins of their organizations - so it’s not necessarily unexpected that hackers look for a space like this. However, we did not expect the volumes of people from 40

Q5: Do you have any advice for those participating in hackathons for the first time?

Your first hackathon is an incredible opportunity to learn. Our best advice is to relax, and use all of the resources available there to your best advantage. Refine your skills, learn new technologies, and connect with fellow hackers, mentors, and sponsor representatives. While working on and submitting a project is great, it’s not necessary to have a great experience! Q6: Is there anything you would have done differently when creating the community?

When we first founded SheHacks, the event was focused primarily on empowering women. When we decided to expand SheHacks into a nonprofit called TechTogether and continue hosting gender-focused hackathons around the country, we thought deeply about our mission and the meaning of true gender diversity. We chose to open our community to include trans, nonbinary, and other gender-queer identities who are too often left out of conversations around feminism and gender diversity. TechTogether was one of the first organizations to include nonbinary and transgender individuals at our annual gender-focused hackathons. As a result of this contribution, most collegiate gender-focused hackathons use genderinclusive language when describing who is welcome to attend their events.

Pictures courtesy of TechTogether Layout by Abby Liang

Overall, our community is made up of some amazingly driven, open-minded, trailblazing individuals; we’re so proud of them and none of our success this far would have been possible without them!



Art by Kristine Huynh

Written by Ishita Khambete

“Hey, what are you planning to do when you grow up?”

“Definitely biology. But as for any specifics, I don’t know yet.”

“Huh. Shouldn’t you go into something more lucrative, maybe computer science? Or engineering? You’d be good at it.”

“I don’t want to go into either of those fields. They don’t interest me.”

“Really? How are you not interested in them?”

“Well, I don’t really find it appealing. That’s not how I want to work with technology. I want to use technology to make discoveries and innovations within biology, but not necessarily to develop the technology or see it in its rawest and early stages.”

“Wow, that’s surprising. Are you sure you don’t want to go into a technology field? It has many options, perhaps more than biology. Also, you don’t even have any specific interests in biology, why not take the easy way out and go into computer science?”



“No. I would never. Just because I don’t know what exactly in biology I want to do doesn’t mean that I’ll completely change my mind about what I want to major in.”

“Well OK, if you say so. So I guess another thing to ask is, what does it feel like, being a girl going into STEAM?”


“If you ask me, it is a bit strange. There are so many jobs in STEAM, yet women are so underrepresented in it. Because there’s a level of demand for people to fill those jobs, so people, especially women, might be getting forced into fields that they don’t want to go into.”

“What are you saying? What I’m getting from this is that women are underrepresented in STEAM and due to the high demand for people to fill those jobs, women are being forced into fields that they don’t want to go into.”

“Yeah, but this demand is only a factor in the job a woman goes into, and the pressure to enter a certain field also comes from a certain source: her family.” TALK


“Family? Ha! How can family force women into certain fields?”

“It’s just an expectation. Like how you expected me and wanted me to go into a technology field, like computer science or engineering. That expectation exists, and thus undermines the true desires of the target person.”

“OK, so next question. What’s the point?”

“Yeah, so by doing what I want to do, I’m studying something that I’m actually passionate about. Because of that, I am able to develop my identity, a concept that revolves around my passions.” 43


“Huh. Interesting. Can you elaborate on that last point?”

“Sure! Developing your identity can be kind of difficult since you shouldn’t focus on what people say you should do, and it’s very easy to fall into the trap of trying to please others instead of thinking about yourself. To combat this, find something that you’re interested in and then go deeper into that topic. This will allow you to understand what you’re interested in as well as what makes you, you.”


“That makes sense! Can this be connected to what it means to be a woman in STEAM?”



Art by Sanya Gupta

“Yes, it can. Being a woman in STEAM means recognizing how your identity affects your experience in these fields. A woman’s identity, combined with what she’s doing in STEAM creates a unique experience in which she can come to terms with what she’s doing to push through any difficulties she might be facing, as well as learning from the experiences of women who came before her. Quite literally, to be a woman in STEAM is to be someone who is persistent, someone who perseveres, and someone who is willing to do what she wants. Her identity develops through her passions, and her passions are fulfilled through what she does every day.”

Edited by Anvitha Reddy and Neha Kanneganti Layout by Izumi Vazquez


My Mother Taught Me Written by Leslie Kim Edited by Emilka Jansen, Kriti Sundaresa, and Vivian Chu Layout by Nuha Mozumder

Art by Jennifer Zhu


My mother had lived in a world that valued her womb like dollars, oscillating on whether it carried life. My brother received seven gold rings when he was born. When I was born, I was given the hospital blanket I was swaddled in and the gentle cusp of my mother’s hand. In our world with values fluctuating, deprecating, inflating, and deflating depending on how much a girl knows, how a girl talks, how a girl looks, and how a girl lifts her chin and demands, my mother taught me how to find stability in the storm and harness the winds of the hurricane by grasping its eye.

LESSON 1 Girls can have thick thighs. My thighs pool off the edge of stools. I grew up, tripping on the societal tightrope, falling into caloric deficits. I’d survive on 1200 calories a day with an hour of exercise, cinching my waist with a measuring tape, and grasping at my calves wishing I could circle them with my thumb and pinkie. As I complained about the 180 calories in half of an avocado, my mother would remind me not to be afraid, not of food. My body grew, molded, and curved. I got a bigger pair of jeans. Don’t be afraid of food, it powers your body. Don’t be afraid of power. Girls sure as hell need it.


Girls are smart. I was in the 5th grade when a boy asked me to recite the first three letters of my math acceleration confirmation letter—as if my word couldn’t be trusted unless he could authenticate my intelligence with a test of memorization. I pressed my lips into a thin string and turned my computer to him so he could read the email. One day, I returned with an American Mathematics Contest (AMC 8) score that I could count on one hand… out of thirty. The percentage didn't matter to my mother. She set down the piece of paper and took out a box of toothpicks, her eyes tracing the floor as she set up the toothpicks to reconstruct the word problem. She was a math teacher in Korea; give that girl a toothpick and she’ll scrape through the dirt to teach you arithmetics.



There are no "boy" or "girl" jobs, nonetheless femininity does not equate to disrespect. Dichotomy is null. My mother scoured the internet for how-to videos in the garage with the hood of our car propped open, her hands wrangling and grasping around machinery. Her fingernails stained slick with oil. My mother has fixed our 2006 Honda three times. The spurting motors, dying exhaust, and collapsing batteries had nothing against my mother and a YouTube video. All the same, my mother vacuums, religiously scrubs the toilet, washes the dishes, teaches my little sister how to divide fractions, cooks dinner, and goes to sleep consumed with exhaustion. I learned to never think of her as less than my friends with mothers as civil engineers. Being a housewife should not be looked down upon. Don’t look down on the girl, rally against the system.

LESSON 4 You don’t need to be perfect. My mother isn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. Your mother isn’t perfect. Men aren’t perfect. I don’t know a single person that has perfection coursing through their body like blood. The concept of perfection is imperfect. That box will attempt to shape and squish your mind until you no longer feel you are enough. We are evolving, innovative girls with goals that keep moving with the pace of our steps. Perfection is unreachable. Our limit cannot be confined to a frontier that someone else has defined.

My mother taught me how to unabashedly be a woman. With hips that jut out and thighs that bumped one another. With a mind sharp and vision ahead, unafraid to delve into data science and take on leadership positions. My mother taught me that I don’t have to choose between writing or robotics, painting my nails or studying chemistry. My mother taught me that I am a woman; just like how all the girls out there are women. They may have different interests, beliefs, skin colors, dreams, theories, and experiences, but they too are powerful women. And we all would like to teach the world a lesson or two. Art (left) by Angela Cameron


Finding Empowerment: a Mixtape


he moment I stepped into the cccdaunting halls of high school, I was understandably overwhelmed. I was faced with the startling sense of being able to go in any direction—an unconventional osmosis into making my own decisions. I had the power of deciding who I would befriend, what classes I would take, and most importantly, who I would become. New beginnings are always unnerving. You don’t magically integrate into your new situation (although we all wish we could). Know that it may take some time to adjust and gain the confidence to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. This is completely normal! Eventually, you will gain a newfound sense of selfconsciousness, awareness, and perception, which will allow you to navigate unfamiliar territory. The single most important tip I can give anyone going into high school is this: take the space to exist, rebel, and prosper. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do anything. You are the only person who can define your own happiness, and this is key when gaining confidence in high school. For me, this meant joining my high school’s robotics team, becoming a STEM mentor in a Makerspace, and pursuing my love for writing.

As a Hispanic female, I’m proud to have accomplished all of this. Despite what stereotypes might say about me, I pushed myself to grow outside the societal boundary that confined me, and I wish all of you reading this to do the same. No matter what path you choose to follow in high school, you are the only person who can control and curate your own identity. I created this playlist of songs that kept me pumped and ready to take on any challenge I faced during my high school years. Listen to it, find your power, and allow the world to do the rest. Written by Celine Vazquez Edited by Abigail Jolteus, Chloe Deng, and Shaguffta Kaur Art by Tara Mukund (p. 45) and Sadie Honchock (p. 46) Layout by Cynthia Zhang


1 Like a Girl 2 Don't Stop Me Now 3 Unwritten 4 Light On 5 Go Your Own Way 6 7 The Middle Dancing With Myself 8 CROWN by CHIKA

This song is all about doing your own thing without caring about what anybody else thinks!

by Lizzo

I absolutely ADORE Lizzo for her empowering personality, and her music is no different. This song makes me want to drop all negativity and take over the world.

by Queen

A song about not letting anything get in your way. For when you need to get fired up and feel good!

by Natasha Bedingfield

I love this classic because it preaches the most important truth of all time: you are the only person who is you. Nobody else will ever know what it’s like to be you, so you should be the only person to decide what you can or can’t do.

by Maggie Rogers

Maggie Rogers is a hidden artist with an exploding amount of talent. This song is a reminder to keep on dancing and smiling while discovering what’s important to you.

by Fleetwood Mac

Just. So. Good. Do what this song says! Go your own way! Create your own path! Don’t just exist - live!

by Jimmy Eat World

A gentle reminder that everything will be okay. Even when things seem hard, when people doubt your capabilities, you will come out of the tunnel stronger and better than ever before.

by Generation X

A celebratory ending to this mini-mixtape. You should be your ultimate priority. While you tackle high school, college, and ultimately life itself, you need to always remember that your happiness comes first.

Whenever you’re in need of a reminder of how powerful you are, listen to these lyrics. Always keep your head held high and remember what an amazing influence you can have on this world!




Layout by Izumi Vazquez and Kate Vo Art by Deya Liao, Kristine Huynh, and Sadie Honchock

Emma Quinn: Creative Writing A: STEAM has allowed me to discover topics that I am extremely passionate about, and it has given me new ways I hope to change the world in the future. Girl Genius has helped me find opportunities and connect with so many intelligent and inspirational girls who share similar interests as me.


Q: How has STEAM and Girl Genius shaped your identity?

Madison Ramos: Blogging A:Â As a woman pursuing computer science, the Girl Genius community has helped me grow as an advocate for diversity and inclusion in STEAM education. Through Girl Genius' empowering space, I have also become more confident in my abilities!

Jyothikaa Ramann: Editing A: It has truly shaped my identity into one that is honest, confident, brave and driven. I use these parts of identity to try and inspire other girls and people part of community, to help them grow and make their own impacts.

Nandini Goyal: Finance

Fara Yan: Events

A: Girl Genius has shown me what it means to be part of an empowering community that always supports you. I've learned that I, too, have a voice in STEAM.

A: Girl Genius has allowed me to feel confident and embrace my passion for STEAM together with like-minded girls!


Abby Liang: Layout Design

Ritu Atreyas: Newsletters

A: Girl Genius has allowed me to integrate art to STEM and enhance my vision as well as confidence on the future of STEAM that is filled with female change makers.

A: Working with such a supportive team of intelligent and capable girls has shown me the interdisciplinary power of STEAM and has given me the confidence to take advantage of all the opportunities out there. Girl Genius is a perfect example of how there is strength in unity and I've learned the importance of working with others to initiate change.

Agnes Mar: Partnerships A: GG has shown me that I don't just have to identify with one "letter" in STEAM. I can pursue my various interests that I never thought could be combined!

Zoe Ngo: Video Production A: Girl Genius has been an integral part in my leadership and communication skills. My identity is fundamentally based on those skills, which has helped me further my interests in STEAM and will continue to fuel my ambitions to make STEAM a more inclusive space for BIPOC female and nonbinary individuals.

Cassie Areff: Video Editing A: STEAM and Girl Genius have made me more curious about the paths I can take in the future, and helped me to understand that I have a community to support me along the way.

Andrea Gonzalez: Social Media

Garima Sharma: Writing

A: STEAM and Girl Genius has shaped my identity by allowing me to grow into a more confident person and be a team player.

A: STEAM as a whole has made me observant of the world around me and how I can use STEAM to impact others. Girl Genius helped me with this as well by introducing me to a larger audience with people around the globe!


Shivali Gulati: Co-Lead A: Leading Girl Genius has allowed me to realize that the people who you surround yourself have great influence on your mental health and your perspective on world.



Chloe Yan: Co-Lead A: My experiences in STEAM have taught me to persevere, whether I'm learning a new programming language or challenging conventional gender stereotypes. With the support from our incredible community at Girl Genius, I feel empowered to take a step towards a better future and initiate change.


Thank You to Our Partners

Art by Julia Chiappe


Layout by Vanessa Guo, Art by Adelina Rose Gowans




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