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.
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.
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.