Narrowing the Gender Gap at Hackathons

Narrowing the Gender Gap at Hackathons

As hackathons become more prevalent, one thing has (mostly) stayed the same: the ratio of male to female hackathon participants is often lower than the ratio in the broader computer science community. How can hackathon organizers be mindful of this issue, and encourage a diverse pool of participants? As it turns out, the same changes that make hackathons better for female participants, make hackathons better for all participants.

This talk will cover the basics of how to run an inclusive hackathon. We will discuss several high school and college hackathons, and study which strategies hackathon organizers are successfully using "in the field", the lessons they've learned, and the results they've seen.

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Amalia Hawkins

May 18, 2014
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Transcript

  1. Narrowing the Gender Gap at Hackathons Amalia Hawkins, MongoDB

  2. Why Does It Matter? Understanding Context

  3. Since 2009, college hackathons have spread across the USA. Provide

    a pragmatic counterpart to theory-based courses.
  4. In 2010, women were awarded 18% of undergrad CS degrees.*

    * Statistics from the National Center for Women & Information Technology. College hackathons have a lower ratio than their degree programs.
  5. Nothing I can do is going to change things.

  6. Nothing I can do is going to change things. False.

  7. The same changes that make hackathons better for female participants,

    make hackathons better for all participants.
  8. Who’s Staying Home? Breaking Down Barriers to Entry

  9. The Barrier of Unfamiliarity: Not being in the right “networks”

    to gain knowledge.
  10. The Barrier of Unfamiliarity: Not being in the right “networks”

    to gain knowledge. Reach out to your community through a variety of channels.
  11. Would-be participants cannot picture themselves at a hackathon.

  12. Would-be participants cannot picture themselves at a hackathon. Provide mentorship:

    be accessible to first-timers.
  13. Provide mentorship: be accessible to first-timers. Would-be participants cannot picture

    themselves at a hackathon. Re-examine your messaging.
  14. 1 2

  15. Hackathons are about cooperation, not competition.

  16. Organizers and attendees alike care most about creating great hacks.

    Hackathons are about cooperation, not competition.
  17. 3 4 5

  18. How Do We Progress? Tweaks That (Are) Work(ing)

  19. Involve women in your planning team.

  20. Gather feedback from the people who showed up -- and

    the people who didn’t.
  21. Sometimes you’re going to try controversial techniques. That’s okay! (Nobody

    really knows what they’re doing.)
  22. Hackathons are a microcosm of the larger tech community.

  23. Fix the experience, and the ratios will change. Everybody benefits.

  24. Thanks for your help! PennApps HackTX MHacks HackTrin VTHacks HackMIT

    HackDuke HackRU PearlHacks BitCamp Hack@Brown HackBCA DevFest TartanHacks HackCon … and others! !