GDS Gxrls are Leaders in STEM

GDS Gxrls are Leaders in STEM
Danny Stock

Digital publishing of the second issue of Gxrls in STEM Magazine

Last week, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the student collaborative magazine Gxrls in STEM Avani Ahuja ’22 announced the publication of the magazine’s second issue, available digitally for the GDS and Sidwell Friends communities. The inter-school magazine—written, designed, and edited exclusively by GDS and Sidwell Friends “gxrls,” students who identify as female or nonbinary—features wide-ranging topics in science, technology, engineering, and math as well as original artwork by the students. The first issue was published in January 2020.

“We're really excited to share this magazine with you,” Avani said. “Our writers, artists, graphic designers, and editors have worked tirelessly on this issue to bring reliable and informative articles to you about various STEM topics! Our spotlight topic for this issue is breakthroughs in medicine, so many of the articles feature the latest in medicine and our progress on a cure for COVID-19.” Avani noted that other articles in this issue analyze failures of period-tracking apps and the expected economic impacts of the pandemic. 

Avani explained that the inspiration for creating the magazine stemmed from STEM experiences in Middle and High School that she and her co-head at Sidwell Layla Dawit shared. She and Layla noted “the diminishing self-confidence of our STEM-oriented female friends in their math classes, our experiences on a predominantly male robotics team, and perhaps most importantly, participating together on an all-girls MATHCOUNTS Nationals Team in a competition that was over 90% male.”

Avani’s experience on the all-girls team left a lasting impression. “It taught us that building a community of gxrls is critical to bridging the gender gap,” she said. “Alone, we would have disappeared into the crowd, but together, undeterred by the hundreds of male mathletes that were milling around us, we were a force to be reckoned with. Awkward, funny, and painful moments that were entirely unique to our identities as girls in STEM culminated in this magazine, which enabled us to bring together an inter-school community that would always be there for each other in the best and worst of times.”

In the future, the Gxrls in STEM team are looking to launch a website and bolster their interactions with Middle School students. Early this spring, Avani teamed up Gxrls in STEM and GDS math team classmates Tayae Rogers ’20, Julie Steele ’22, Lyra Gemmill-Nexon ’22, Phoebe Braun ’22, Sophie Zinn ’22, and Madeleine Popofsky ’22 to offer a meaningful workshop during GDS’s Middle School STEAM Day. “We're hoping to do even more next year in the unified campus!” she added. Avani also noted plans to expand to more schools in the DC area, including Maret, Holton-Arms School, and National Cathedral School (NCS).

In reflecting upon what has been most meaningful about the magazine, associate editor and layout designer Madeleine Popofsky ’22 was quick to look beyond the layout and the writing. She said, "The best part of the Gxrls in STEM Magazine is not the fascinating information of the articles, the beautiful artwork and photography, or even how each issue takes a deep look into a topic that affects all of our lives. It is how this magazine gives a group of people a voice, lets them explore their own interests and share their discoveries in a world where gxrls are consistently undervalued. It is a community of people who have looked sexism in STEM in the eye and decided it would be their mission to fight it, one issue at a time."

Avani extended her gratitude to Suzy Hamon and Vinay Malikarjun as well as the Sidwell Faculty Advisors for all of their support throughout the school year. “[These magazines] would not have happened without you!” she said. “After releasing each issue, I have gotten numerous emails from students and faculty, so to those who have supported me through this process—thank you so much! Your support really spoke to the value of such a vibrant community!”

A full list of GDS and Sidwell Friends contributors can be found on page three of the most recent issue. Read the issues here: FIRST and SECOND.

Highlights from the second issue: 

  • A tribute to the health workers on the frontlines of the pandemic
  • A series of well-researched articles that will keep you updated on hot topics in STEM
  • Gorgeous illustrations and photographs by GDS and Sidwell students
  • An interview with a female epidemiologist, part of our "Interview with a Womxn in STEM" Series (womxn refers to all adults who identify as female or non-binary)
  • The latest statistics on womxn in STEM in the workplace 
  • Science memes and a crossword!
  • A list of COVID-19 resources that include GDS and Sidwell student initiatives to keep you informed about how to help out during these trying times


GDS Gxrls are Leaders in STEM
  • High School
  • Technology