Shivali Gulati is a high school student with a passion for all things STEM. She is the founder of Girl Genius Mag, a platform for high school and college students interested in STEAM, and the founder of Coding4Kids, which serves over 100 elementary school kids. With her love for computer science, she is constantly designing websites, working on her high school’s Girls Who Code chapter, and hosting hackathons. Be sure to follow Shivali @shivali_02 on Instagram and follow the mag @girlgeniusmag and girlgeniusmagazine.wixsite.com!
What does feminism mean to you?
To me, feminism is inclusivity and ending the gender gap in all aspects.
Tell us a little bit about the projects you have founded, Girl Genius Magazine and Coding4Kids.
Girl Genius is 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 90+ girls from 21 locations. Our initiative seeks to connect female changemakers interested in STEAM and foster an interest in STEAM in girls from all over the world. Currently, we’ve released one issue and plan to release our second issue which celebrates community in early September. In addition to developing magazine issues, our teams produce YouTube Videos, establish partnerships with women-led initiatives like, Wogrammer and #BUILTBYGIRLS, highlight females on our Instagram stories weekly, and organize our upcoming middle school mentorship program.
Coding4Kids is an international initiative that is dedicated to fostering a love of coding in 225+ young students and introducing youth to the tech industry with chapters in California,Virginia, India, and Saudi Arabia. I founded Coding4Kids after seeing the lack of engineering and technology classes in our community, despite living in the Silicon Valley. Through Coding4Kids, we seek to provide free coding education to as many students as possible, as coding is an essential skill, but remains a privilege to learn, due to the high cost of coding classes. In the upcoming school year, our team is California is expected to teach Scratch, HTML/CSS to elementary school students and Python and Java to middle school students.
How were you first introduced to STEAM?
My computer science story began in a small classroom at my elementary school where students were taught Drag N Drop on code.org. I was very entice by how a few blocks of code could make so much happen on the screen and allow me to successfully pass angry bird levels on the platform. In the subsequent year, the coding program was unfortunately canceled, but I spent the rest of elementary school learning to design websites on hosting sites, like WordPress, and using HTML/CSS to personalize my sites on my own. From there, I asked my parents to put me into coding classes and now, I’m here.
How does being a girl and a teenager affect your experience within the STEM field?
As a female in STEM, I have always struggled to find other females interested in Computer Science to talk to, especially in my coding classes. Our high school offers AP Computer Science A as a class and only 17% of students are female, which is disappointing, as I think coding is really fun and I’d love to have more females to talk about it.
However, being a member of the #BUILTBYGIRLS community, participating in programs, such as Kode With Klossy and Code Her Future, and starting Girl Genius Magazine have allowed me to interact with more females interested in STEAM outside of California.
Who are womxn you look up to in STEM?
I really look up to the founder of Safe Squad, Mercedes Molloy, as she is such a hard worker and used technology to make the world a safe place, all while being a full-time college student!
As a member of Gen Z, how do you think this generation will change the coding and technological world?
2019 has been a year of so many technical advancements, particularly in AI. I think this generation will change the coding and technology world by using machine learning and AI concepts to build products related to science or the medical field. For example, AI is currently being used in OR rooms to determine whether the patient is losing too much blood. I’m interested to see how AI can be used to evolve the medical field.
What advice do you have for other teens looking to create their own pathway in STEAM? What do you do on a daily basis to make change?
Just start. I had the idea of Girl Genius Magazine and I pitched it to my best friend, who encouraged me to go with it. I then posted about the platform on my social media accounts and at school clubs and slowly began recruiting girls to create issue one. If you have an idea, just get started. See what you need to make this successful and work towards achieving that goal, even if it takes time.
On a daily basis, I make change by creating a positive atmosphere in the Girl Genius community, teaching students in my community how to code, and organizing hack-a-thons which are inclusive and beginner-friendly. Change simply begins with you taking step one to make your idea a reality.
If you could choose anyone, not based on electability or age, to become president in 2020, who would it be?
Michelle Obama, since she is a female role model for females and is always working towards making every aspect of what she does inclusive to all.
Follow Shivali on Instagram (@shivali_02)