The average hackathon can have an unbalanced ratio of men to women, with male participants outnumbering their female counterparts significantly. This can be discouraging to some women who are interested in participating.
In a way, this is a microcosm of one of the challenges that women in tech face each day in the workforce. In many technology companies, there are few female employees vying for respect and position in a company full of men.
This disparity tends to be even worse in the Asia-Pacific region, where the rate of women hired in technology positions has remained stagnant over the last few years, even as more and more technology positions are created. Change is needed in these areas to balance out the ratio of men to women in the workplace.
There may be many reasons for this disparity between men and women working in technology, depending on the country and many other factors. In some countries, cultural conventions make it hard for women to break into what have traditionally been male-dominated fields and gain the respect they deserve from their cohorts.
In other nations, women may face difficulty getting the education they need to work in these roles. And still other women may face difficulty having a career at all — instead being forced into marriage or home life. In particular, women in Singapore face many issues as they try to balance working in technology or other industries with the traditional roles of mother and wife at home.
However, the fact remains that many women in the region are interested in learning about coding, development, online entrepreneurship and design. To encourage the promotion of women in these fields, and to help women in the Asia-Pacific region that face social and economic issues, the Singapore Committee for UN Women is trying a new initiative in the form of a hackathon that will concentrate on empowering women in many ways.
First, the hackathon can help to encourage and improve the careers of the women in technology who participate. These women will work to create solutions that can help less-advantaged women in the region overcome common issues, such as the lack of financial literacy, and do social good.
The Singapore Committee for UN Women’s Hackathon aims to change the balance within technology-related industries by encouraging women of all ages and skills in technology fields to come together and participate. Female developers, designers, coders, hackers and entrepreneurs will converge to participate in the event and share ideas for how to help disadvantaged women. For the event, the committee will pair with AngelHack, the organization behind the well-known hackathons held in locations all over the world. These women will concentrate on using their skills to help empower other women socially and economically through technology.
A hackathon is an event where developers, designers and entrepreneurs work together to develop new ideas centered around a theme or product. During a hackathon, there may be participants from around the city, and even around the world, in the same building, working together and creating a unique energy and environment for developers and coders to work in.
The event gives participants a chance to participate in a one-of-a-kind, worldwide event with leading talent and allows them the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the field. The Singapore Committee for UN Women’s Hackathon will concentrate in particular on building mobile applications to help empower women in the region socially and economically, while also encouraging women in technology to learn and perfect their skills. Hackathon participants will use cutting-edge technology such as APIs as building blocks to create mobile apps.
Developers and designers participating in the hackathon will work to create apps for social good within a 24-hour period. Many women in the region still struggle with issues such as a lack of education and financial literacy, which can be a necessary first step toward independence. Mobile apps that can teach them the principles of budgeting, saving and investing money may be the most effective tool possible due to the availability of mobile phones in most regions. Even women who live in the most impoverished regions now have access to information through mobile phones. The Singapore Committee for UN Women works with these women on a daily basis and is uniquely positioned to see the needs they have and offer solutions for these issues.
While the event is technically a competition, there really are no losers. Participating in the hackathon is a way for women in technology to feel they are creating change and performing social good in the area. It can also help them make connections with women in similar fields and learn new skills. The women who learn and gain skills from the apps that are created during the event will benefit for many years to come.
Guest post by Kelsey Ruiz.