HackHERS is an annual event on campus that promotes diversity and inclusion while also encouraging creativity, equality and education in STEM fields.
It’s 9a.m. at Cook Campus Center, and there is a line around the building of young women with backpacks and sleeping bags. These girls are eagerly waiting to register for an event they’ve been looking forward to for months. HackHERS is a hackathon catering to women to promote inclusivity and diversity in the technological space. The beauty of HackHERS is that it’s open to people of all skill levels, and provides hackers of all skill levels with knowledge and space to really flex their creativity. I spoke with senior and organizer, Constantina Scoullis, about the importance of the event:
“The overall goal of HackHERS is to create a space in which women (and those new to programming) can explore tech and tech culture and be empowered to build with code. We are a hackathon geared towards women*, but the problem of the gender gap within the tech sector is something that we need everyone involved in, regardless of gender. Because of that, we invite those who do not identify as female to participate. Considering that hackathons are logistically complex events and nobody should expect it to go 100% according to plan, HackHERS 2017 went pretty smoothly, and we only had a few minor hiccups.” – Constantina Scoullis, Senior
Participants in the event also agreed that this was an incredibly educational experience. While many participants were STEM students, those who were non-STEM majors also felt included during the event. The workshops curated by HackHERS are usually extremely popular. Some workshops this year included Data 101 (data science and modeling), Intro to Node.js (an introduction to backend development), and intro to iOS development. Participant Briana Nema talked about the experience of her first time attending the event:
“During the event, a friend messaged me asking about the hackathon. He asked, “Are you winning?” I replied, “Yes, I am winning by gaining so much new knowledge!” What I love about HackHERS is that it encourages everyone to join, no matter what skill level. My favorite part of the event are the workshops because they introduce new topics that I have no knowledge of. The community is very helpful, and I was able to meet new and old friends.”
Overall, the team felt that this was possibly the best HackHERS to date. Approximately 600 people applied for a total of 300 spots, which is double the number than last year and more people stuck around the entire 24 hours this year than ever before. A large number of non-Rutgers students from other universities also showed interest this year and workshops were well-attended by the students participating. There were also some review sessions for upcoming exams to help students handle their academic workload while attending the event. HackHERS had several corporate sponsors, and all expressed interest
Look out for sign-ups for HackHERS 2018 in the upcoming fall semester.
*(when we do use the word women/female, we use the inclusive definition of female and include trans women and non-binary people too)
Bhavna is recent Rutgers graduate who majored in computer science. She likes to take pictures of food and watch videos of fluffy dogs try to hop down flights of stairs.