For women, by women: how this all-female hackathon focused on addressing challenges women face
Who better than women to address the challenges they face? That is what the 50 women in tech were busy with last weekend when I met them, trying to understand and solve challenges and issues that impact them.
Android developers got together in an all-female coding weekend to empower each other by building a network and sharing knowledge at the Truecaller Woman Hackathon. The Womandroid Hackathon let them put their heads together and leverage their coding skills to build applications for education, networking, and knowledge sharing services. The participants included freshers and experienced women aged between 22-35 years, and all solutions addressed the challenges women specifically face.
With Womandroid 2019, the aim of Truecaller, a mobile app that tracks caller details, was to bring together women Android developers under one roof and let them learn, challenge their skills, and network with industry experts and other like-minded developers.
Participants working on their projects.
Ruchika Jain, a second year computer student, was excited to attend her first all-women hackathon. Kritika, also a student, said that this hackathon made her think from different perspectives while building the project- the problems housewives and professionals face. Both of them were looking forward to meeting and learning from others, and growing.
Women in tech challenges
“Usually we are asked to come in teams for hackathons, which includes mostly men,” said Jyoti Dubey, an Android developer at Freshworks, who came from Chennai to attend the event.
A report by Booking.com shows that the lack of female role models and leaders in the industry is creating barriers for women in tech. Around 90 percent of women respondents working in non-tech roles indicated that seeing more women in leadership roles would inspire them to advance their career in tech.
It is something Truecaller’s HR Director Humera Iffath pointed out. According to her, the biggest challenge that women in tech face is the lack of women in leadership roles. “It is not just about making them leaders, but also making them feel valued,” she said.
That is what Truecaller wanted to do with this Hackathon, which focused on diversity and inclusion. Humera said, “We like to look at it as the first step from the organisation to empower women so they go and support others.”
Women taking charge
And things are changing. Lindsey LaMont, Brand Manager, Truecaller said that a lot of women are finding direction in how they want to build their career.
“More women are coming forward, talking about their problems, and the steps they plan to take to address them. One day, hopefully, we will see gender equality at work. This might take decades to change but I strongly believe that this change will happen.”
Lindsey also points out that for the change to happen it is crucial for male colleagues to be a part of the movement too. Bias and stereotypes in the tech field need to be addressed.
But there is a silver lining to all this. According to a report by Booking.com shows, a whopping 96 percent of India’s women techies – the highest in the world - are committed to continuing working in technology, and they intend to work towards gender parity.
With the winning teams at Hackathon creating a mentorship app that lets women transition smoothly from education to work, a networking app that helps focus on making new friends, and another one that helps women ask other women questions and seek their help, it looks like if more women developers and coders come together, we may soon find a way for women in tech to fully leverage technology to solve problems that impact women.