LadyHacks: a Hackathon for Women brought together 65 women to work collaboratively this weekend on projects in an effort to add an entry point into a growing technology community broadly and civic hacking scene specifically.
Organizers of Philadelphia’s first large scale, women-only hackathon, Tristin Hightower and Sondra Willhite, welcomed the crowd at WHYY during Friday evening’s project brainstorming session citing results of a poll taken at registration that revealed nearly 80 percent of the attendees had never before attended a hackathon. Yes, that number includes the six month old and a four year old who were in attendance.
And for a city that’s host to frequent hackathons, opening that gateway for attendees was a win in her book.
Energy filled the room through Saturday as teams regrouped and continued working on projects in earnest. During a lunch break, several attendees shared their past experiences about other hackathons with the crowd. A common theme in those remarks was that hackathons are not only a place for developers and programmers. A successful hackathon, especially the civic-focused examples that have grown in recent years, receives contributions from a wide range of community members with different skills to offer.
The mix needs those who can build the technology, in addition to those who can inspire the technology and those who can use it.
LadyHacks wrapped on Saturday afternoon with short presentations on each project, including:
- STEMeverywhere: A central resource site to help young girls and underrepresented minority communities to get involved in science, technology, math and engineering. See it on Facebook here.
- Girls Rock Philly: A teen-friendly redesign for the nonprofit organization that empowers girls through music education and mentorship.
- Hacking the Gender Gap: Using the format of The Hacktory’s workshop of the same title as inspiration, a team worked to collect anecdotes to share in an online timeline.
- She Tech Philly: A one-stop-shop for women in tech resources, a site to host a calendar of all upcoming events/classes in the region, links to relevant organizations, and a collaborative blog. Find a launch page here.
- Miss Who: A digital billboard/interactive infographic to reveal stereotypes about women, inspired by the documentary film, Miss Representation.
- Girl Wired: An online game about a young girl who serendipitously becomes interested in circuit bending.
- Gender Gap Graph: A graph that visually depicted the IT gender gap, showing a literal gap between the CS degrees awarded to men vs women over the past decade.
The take home message for the attendees? Don’t stop at LadyHacks; use the experience to become more involved in the vibrant hackathon community.
The hope is to make the event annual, said Hightower.