The Story of Unboxd and What to Expect in 2019

Nitasha Syed
4 min readJan 5, 2019

70% of elementary school girls believe they can succeed in math & science. That number goes down to 0.4% by the time they are in highschool.

In April 2018 and I was sitting on a bench in Vernazza, Cinque Terra having one of those ‘what the heck am I going to do with my life’ conversations with my partner. I had spent the last few months brainstorming startup ideas with my mentors and nothing was sticking. Everything I came up with seemed too complex — don’t get me wrong I love a challenge, but when the thing you’re building takes 3 paragraphs to explain, then there’s something wrong. I didn’t know it at the time, but that conversation was going to take a life-changing turn.

‘What about that interviews you do?’ my partner asked.

‘I love interviewing women IN STEM but I don’t see how that can be a viable business.’ my business savvy mind responded.

‘Yeah but you enjoy doing it right? You have a clear why and passion behind it. Go home and put more force into it. Don’t think about business and monetization models just yet. Look at all the interviews you’ve done, the trends your uncovering and do some research and understand the gaps in the Gender Diversity and STEM space..’ he said

I honestly didn’t know what it would look like but I got home and went into research mode immediately. For those of you who are familiar with the lack of diversity in STEM it won’t surprise you that there is a lot of work that is needed to be done. I started reading scientific papers on how the stereotypes in STEM can effect a young girls decision on what she wants to be when she grows up.

For example, did you know that when girls enter elementary school 70% of them believe they can succeed in math and science and that number goes down to 0.4% by the time they are in high school?

When I interviewed the Director of Product at a tech company and she told me that a group of 6th-grade girls that were visiting her office didn’t believe her when she told them that she had a Masters degree in Engineering because she was ‘wearing lipstick and had nice hair and engineer’s don’t do that’.

I found the top media brands and Instagram accounts that young girls follow and looked through all their content thinking to myself ‘why aren’t there scientists or engineers in this content — they have interests outside of STEM too (just like everyone else). Why can’t they be seen in this multi-dimensional light’.

These are the thoughts that lead me to Unboxd. I coined the term STEMfluencer as someone who is working to change the perception of STEM in the media. I spent May and June putting all my thoughts together and reaching out to all the STEMfluencers I could find and building a community around them. The idea was to take the storytelling piece aspect from my blog but launch it as a lifestyle media brand that highlights women in STEM fields — it got coined as The Vogue for STEM.

From left to right Meg Metha (Developer Relations @Google, Meral Arik (Co-founder @String), Saira Husain (Global Market Vaccine Shaping Expert @Clinton Health Initiative), Sabrina Billinghurst (User Experience Researcher @Google). Photography: @salaam_ali

I do a photo shoot every two weeks all around San Francisco with women that have all sorts of backgrounds in STEM. I’ve had pediatric heart surgeons posing for photos in the middle of busy streets in Union Square and was playing Never Have I Ever with scientists and engineers on camera. I launched our social media pages and started building a following that has reached over 3,000 people now. I spoke to educators, students, Women in STEM organizations and saw Unboxd being the centerpiece that connects them all.

With 2019 off to a great start I am happy to announce that Unboxd has moved from a digital magazine to a platform. It will be the go-to place for Gender Diversity in STEM where you can keep up to date with the latest news, people, products, companies, event, books, podcasts, and blogs in the space. I have been working tirelessly with female founders in science and technology and nonprofit organizations to get all their content ramped on so that we can celebrate and highlight their work. This year, Glassdoor launched their ‘Top 15 companies tech to work for’ list and there wasn’t a single female-led company on there and Unboxd is going to change that. You will have a central place to show the young girls in your life the different kinds of women in STEM and what they are up to right now. In addition to that, we’re hard at work to develop tools and resources for educators so they can help their students have a better understanding of what STEM is and the opportunities in the field.

We thank everyone who has helped us thus far and want you to stay tuned to what we have in store.

Subscribe to Unboxd here. Submit your work to the Unboxd platform here!



Nitasha Syed

Founder and CEO of Unboxd. We’re closing the Gender Gap in STEM.