Behind The Scenes: My Internship Experience

Throughout the past month and a half I have had the privilege of interning with Hack the Gap. I have gotten to know the two women behind Hack the Gap: Jenna Pederson and Kristen Womack. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with them on a professional level. Before I met them one morning I was doing some research on Hack the Gap. I came across this video and for the rest of the day, the song, Lizzo and Caroline Smith’s Let ‘Em Say, was blaring through my headphones. I had never felt so empowered. I knew that despite my heavy workload I had to take on this internship.

The first time I met Jenna and Kristen, I was incredibly nervous. I was a mere college student about to meet two people who, through the internet, seemed cooler than I was. When I arrived early for our first meeting it took me about ten minutes or so of sitting across from Jenna to realize that she was who I was looking for. Despite the minor hiccup of arriving early, the meeting was successful (no surprise there!).  I connected with their mission to promote and nurture women and minorities in technology here in the Twin Cities.

I’ve learned through this experience that it’s important to be choosy when planning an event of this nature. Jenna and Kristen make sure that the companies that support Hack the Gap really believe in fostering women and minorities in technology. They live Hack the Gap’s mission to amplify the voices and cultivate talents of underserved people in our community.

What always interests me in entrepreneurial endeavors is the moment when the founders decide that they need to take action. What takes a person from identifying a problem to actually deciding to do something about the problem? For Jenna and Kristen this moment came after being on one too many diversity panels. They decided that instead of continuing to talk about women and diversity in technology, they were going to start doing something about it.

The passion that Jenna and Kristen exhibit continues to amaze me. At some point during every meeting we discuss the subject of companies talking the talk but not walking the walk when it comes to diversity initiatives. Jenna and Kristen are doing something about the issue of diversity in tech. It is inspiring to work with people who are so passionate about creating change.

I cannot wait to see all of the hard work being done for this event come to fruition. If you want to get inspired and help hack the diversity gap, join us at Hack the Gap 2017!

Kira Taylor is a current senior at the Carlson School of Management and a current intern with Hack the Gap. Connect with her on LinkedIn

Meet this Hacker: Nora Helf

Meet Nora Helf, a previous participant at Hack the Gap and a middle school teacher in Minneapolis. Nora currently teaches a STEM class to 6th graders! They teach their students how to code! Before becoming a teacher, they worked in the Department of Natural Resources after getting their B.S. in Environmental and Natural Resources Management from the University of Minnesota.

Like you, Nora loves technology. Nora signed up for Hack the Gap because they wanted to push themself to see what they could accomplish with a team. Hack the Gap reminded Nora that collaboration is the best way to work. Nora came into the event with the intent to create something for their students. They worked with fellow hacker and teammate Angeliki to come up with a hardware/software combo visualizing brainwaves for students to learn about being calm and meditative.

Hack the Gap has inspired Nora to pursue a career in teaching technology-based content and although they will not be attending any hackathons in the near future, (they have curriculums to refine!) Nora would love to attend another one and see what they can do with a team. Nora loved being surrounded with people who were supporting and cheering them on. Nora believes that it's important to see women and non-binary people coming together to work on technology, because many people have never seen something like Hack the Gap before.

Hack the Gap brings together women and non-binary people to work and collaborate on technology. If you want to get inspired and see what you can do in a team join us at Hack the Gap 2017!


Women in Tech and Startups - The Real Journey

Want to know what really comes out of a hackathon? We’ve been following 100 hackathon alumni since the 2015 and 2016 Hack the Gap hackathons. Some of attendees left inspired to change jobs, come closer together as part of the tech community, and a handful have ventured off to start their own companies.

Behind the Scenes: An Unknown Marketplace

For the last couple of years, we have been programming tech events for women in Minneapolis. It’s lot of work. But the reward is truly the joy of watching it all come together. The inspiration we feel from the community and the connections attendees make at the event makes it worth all the labor. It's kind of unreal how inspired we feel being in a part of this community and what an honor to be a catalyst of it all.

The Allure of an All-Women Hackathon

Image credit: https://www.instagram.com/pearlhacks/

Image credit: https://www.instagram.com/pearlhacks/

This weekend, there are multiple all-women hackathons taking place across the country.

In Chicago, CHI Ladies Hack is hosting an all-women hackathon that serves multiple purposes. While creating a space for women and non-binary people to collaborate, they are ditching the pitches and working directly with non-profit organizations and minority-owned businesses on their projects.

In North Carolina, Pearl Hacks will also be held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This all-women hackathon caters to women of all skill-levels and encourages them to explore technology. Their twist: they involve men in the process.

Like Pearl Hacks, Hack the Gap also invites men to join in - not as participants, but volunteers, mentors, and judges. We know that the gender gap and the issues and challenges associated with diversity and inclusion in our communities, universities, and organizations is not simply the problem of the minority group. Your involvement in the community and to this cause is crucial to it’s success - it’s going to take all of us, if we want the change we collectively say we do. When we all take responsibility, we foster individual potential, strengthen our community, and grow our businesses. Not only are diversity and inclusion good for humanity, but the research shows that it is good for business, too.

These all-women spaces are becoming more popular, but what is the allure of an all-women space? Why is it so desperately necessary?

By providing a safe and supportive environment at our hackathons, women from all backgrounds and experience levels can enjoy an accessible, approachable, positive experience. They can explore their technical abilities, meet other women, and learn. They can focus on the project, without being one of a handful of women at the event. They don’t stand out as an “other”.

We know that an all-women approach is a hack. We know it doesn’t solve the root cause of what is wrong in the tech industry. But this hack working. And women are demanding more events and spaces like this. It might not be for every woman or non-binary person, but as it turns out, there are many people that identify with the desire for a safe and supportive environment such as Hack the Gap.

That’s the allure.

So, if you’re in Chicago or North Carolina, check out the CHI Ladies Hack or Pearl Hacks - but get a ticket first. And if you’re in Minneapolis and interested in getting involved, we’d love to meet you! We'll open up registration soon, but in the mean time check out other ways you can get involved here.

A Vision of How Things Could Be

I attended last year's Hack the Gap hackathon and had an absolutely wonderful time. That was my very first hackathon ever, and I had some trepidation about attending. It was also my first all-women tech event, even though I have been in the software / IT industry since 1980 (earlier if you count university jobs).

It was a supreme thrill for me, and engendered an excitement about the tech scene that I have not felt for a long time.

It was a supreme thrill for me, and engendered an excitement about the tech scene that I have not felt for a long time. In working with other women, I saw how a different way of interacting with co-workers on making business and technical choices can be done. It was refreshing and inspiring to me.

Even though on the surface the hackathon is a competition, what I found was so many people from different teams cheering for each other, interested in what we were all doing, and helping each other out where we could. In the team I was on, sharing ideas, implementation choices, encouraging each other, and giving space to let each other shine were something that has only rarely happened in teams I've been on professionally.

I made some lasting friendships last year, and I'm so glad I could attend and have it be a springboard for me to work more on creating the space in our world for more diverse and inclusive work spaces and learning spaces.

If there ever was a vision of how "Things Could Be" it was that weekend.

I'm extremely happy to see the event is happening again this year, 2016. I can't say I am going to be able to attend this year, but I will make an effort to do so.



Tamara Temple is a self-described "Webologist", Tech Maven, and deeply interested in Software as a Craft. As a life-long learner, Tamara has long had an interest in teaching, coaching, and mentoring people in the arts of programming and helping people to learn how to use computers to solve problems, communicate with others, and have a lot of fun.

Tamara works on both back-end development in Ruby on Rails, and front-end development in AngularJS, ReactJS, and loves playing with Bootstrap for designs using static site generators such as Jekyll. She loves mentoring and TA'ing for the GDI Minneapolis Front End Developer Series.

Tamara is deeply committed to increasing the diversity of her chosen field by increasing the opportunities for women, LGBTQ people, people of color, and people with disabilities to have wonderful, rewarding, and respectful learning opportunities.


When not working around computers, Tamara is a mom to two grown daughters, a watercolourist, photographer, and sometime musician.

Connect with her on Twitter @tamouse or at tamouse.org.


All-women Hackathon Returns to Minneapolis

Hack the Gap returns in May, 2016 in partnership with Clockwork

Press Release

Minneapolis, MN - March 15, 2016 - Hack the Gap announced the date of the 2nd annual all-women hackathon to be held May 14-15, 2016 at Clockwork in Northeast, Minneapolis. The hackathon is aimed at creating a high-energy weekend where women from all backgrounds and experience levels can enjoy an accessible, approachable, positive experience. While it's normal to feel intimidated upon arrival at a weekend-long tech event, 2015 participants reported leaving feeling excited, empowered, and connected after building a project in less than 48hrs with a newly-founded team.

The women will pitch their ideas, work with new technologies, write code, hack hardware, and present their project to the community by the end of the weekend. Mentors and judges, who are thoughtfully selected from the community to have experience, be encouraging and helpful, will offer feedback to the participants.

Hack the Gap has partnered with Clockwork, the event’s exclusive venue and food sponsor. Clockwork CEO, Nancy Lyons, is a renowned national speaker on addressing the gender gap in technology and other fields. Meghan Wilker, COO of Clockwork and champion of this partnership, is a Minneapolis powerhouse and The (Real) Power 50 award winner. Hack the Gap is honored to have the support of these two women at the helm of the Clockwork leadership team.

At last year’s event, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges stopped by to say a few words to the group, and later tweeted: “Hack the Gap is the total awesome package of women and tech and apps and cool stuff. So fun.”

Ultimately, Hack the Gap's mission is to create a safe space for women to explore their technical abilities, to create community among the participants, and to learn. “Many women spoke with me about what the event gave them. For some, it was a new group of people they met and bonded with, for others it was a skill they learned, and several spoke of the confidence they left with after the weekend,” says Kristen Womack, co-founder of Hack the Gap.

To get involved with this year's Hack the Gap or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, visit www.hackthegap.com 

About Hack the Gap

Hack the Gap is an organization that is hacking the diversity gap, one hackathon at a time. Their mission is to amplify the voices and cultivate talents of underserved people in the community by giving the them a safe space to hack and a stage to show what they have built. To learn more about Hack the Gap: www.hackthegap.com

About Clockwork

Clockwork is an interactive design and technology agency in Minneapolis renowned for transformative business solutions. As a values-driven company, they are committed to supporting, promoting, and spotlighting organizations championing inclusivity and diversity.Learn more about what we do: www.clockwork.com