This past weekend, I attended my very first hackathon, the Ignite International Girls Hackathon at General Assembly. The event, part of IGNITE: Women Fueling Science and Technology, sets out to explore the roles of science and technology to advance gender equality in the tech field.
Unlike most first-time hackathon stories, I was not there to code myself.
Instead, I was there as a mentor for the event’s hackers—the incredible ladies of Girls Who Code. The global event called on girl hackers to help create websites or applications to identify, build, or increase access to safe spaces for women and girls—no easy feat.
When the day began, the girls were asked to brainstorm issues affecting women
worldwide and possible solutions. Truth be told, I was not sure what kind of
problems these girls would want to take on, but as the discussion progressed it became clear that these smart, precocious girls were not afraid to take on difficult issues affecting women today including the lack of adequate women’s health, education rights, rape, consent, and domestic violence. I was blown away by their confidence!
After the brainstorming session, the girls were divided up into groups,
according the issue they wanted to take on, after more brainstorming, the ladies
narrowed down the problem they wanted to solve and began on the technical
solution. Although tough subject matters, the girls were enthusiastic to explore
solutions and work together for a common goal.
As the day went on, we created an MVP (minimum viable product), broke
down the technical responsibilities and then began the coding. The girls that were a
part of this hackathon were alumni of the Girls Who Code Summer Program. They were all excited to use the skills they learned for a good cause and it was great to
watch them discuss issues and come up with solutions to their technical setbacks.
Closing the gender gap in tech is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Events like this and organizations like Girls Who Code are pioneering the change I hope to see. As a Code For Change Opportunity Fund Fellow (thank you GA and Alexis Ohanian), we are asked to volunteer 100+ hours in the tech field and I can’t wait to share what I have learned with the next cohort of Girls Who Code.