Gender-driven Hackatons to promote ICT girl empowerment

Promoting gender empowerment and equality through ICT is not just a matter of teaching basic skills to decrease the digital divide, but also of getting women involved in high-skill technology related careers. In order to address gender differences in the current ICT market, several initiatives have started targeting girls to become more proficient in programming and high-level tech skills.

One of this examples is the organization of hackathons that are focused on attracting women to participate in the solution of real world problems. Two popular approaches have been developed to achieve this goal: girl-only and 50% quota hackatons. The first type is designed particularly for girls and may be exemplified with the Pearl Hacks competition that took place in the beginning of April 2016 in North Carolina. This contest was designed for high school, undergraduate and graduate young women  with different coding levels that were grouped for two days to solve tech-related challenges.

The second type of event requires participant teams to be gender balanced (50 percent women and 50 per cent men), thus promoting gender collaboration in ICTs. An example of this is the Hackaton Todos Incluidos organized by Fundación Telefónica and Girls in Tech in Spain, where 120 people were selected to innovate with projects related to the Internet of Things.

Although both of these events follow different strategies, they share a common goal: promote women’s empowerment and decrease the gender digital divide.

Additional Sources: Fundación Telefónica, 20 Minutos, Pearl Hacks