In founding this event, I asked and received a lot of questions: What value prop does SheHacks have amongst a sea of hackathons? Why is this event girls only? Is inclusion by exclusion paradoxical and counter-productive?
It’s irrefutable that tech has a gender diversity issue. Objectively, there are more males than females, nothing to argue about there. Things get a bit hairy when you ask why we should strive for more diversity or how we should get there. Without diving too deep into the wormhole of identity politics and affirmative action, let’s evaluate SheHacks on its own and try to answer these questions.
A while ago, I spoke to a VP of Engineering asking why there was a gender diversity issue at his company. His evaluation was two-fold: 1) The supply of women applying for jobs is far less than men and 2) Of these women, many lack the required experience in comparison to men.
SheHacks is designed to solve these issues.
This is the value proposition of SheHacks: an introductory + intermediary hackathon for girls to experiment with technology, build confidence, learn new skills and build side projects so that they feel more secure in applying to hackathons and jobs in the future. The girls-only environment is necessary to create a safe, experimental space — if it wasn’t, we’d see SheHacks’ statistics represented across all hackathons. In no way is SheHacks intended to replace hackathons, or create false realities regarding diversity in the tech industry. Instead, it should inspire women to attend more diverse hacakathons in the future.
A few #TODO goals for me:
- publish the good and the bad: lessons learned from organizing SheHacks II
- share the post-event report here!
- grow the wits exec team
- scale shehacks even more