Hackathons: Changing the pitiable state of women in technology?

In the mid-1980s, 37 percent of computer science majors were women; in 2012, that figure was at a dismal 18 percent, according to TechRepublic. Last year, Facebook and Google came out with a report on the percentage of their women employees, which was at a pathetic 17 percent and 15 percent respectively. However, a study during the period also showed that only 18 percent of women graduated with a computer science degree in USA.  The last time women and men were equally distributed in computer science was 22 years ago, way back in 1993.

The number of women employees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workplaces is hardly many simply because there aren’t any to employ, even if the organizations want to. These fields were essentially brought together to attain academic success by preparing a comprehensive curriculum, and moreover, these fields are deeply intervened in the real world.

 Hackathons: Changing the pitiable state of women in technology?


Why is the ratio of women taking computer science so pitiable in comparison with men? Consider these facts:

-- Women made up only 26 percent of the computing workforce in 2013; out of which only 5 percent were Asian women (Source: National Center for Women & Information Technology)

-- Women make up only six percent of chief executives at the leading 100 tech companies, and that has taken years to accomplish (Source: CNN)

-- 56 percent of women in technology leave their employers midcareer (Source: National Center for Women & Information Technology)

-- Arrival of young children at home significantly and substantially decreases women’s near-term patenting and entrepreneurship, with no similar effect for men. (gov)

-- Teen girls have access to computers later than teen boys: Age of first computer use: Female: 14.5 Male: 12 (Women Who Tech)

Hackathons to rescue

Information technology and IT-enabled services sectors have seen around 33 percent and 31 percent growth in recruitment in 2014, according to the Monster Employment Index 2014. Along with this growth, the industry is also undergoing a paradigm shift in technical hiring methodologies. It is becoming more skill-based and objective. One of the instruments enabling this change is the increasing popularity of Hackathons as an effective recruitment tool.

In a bid to improve the hiring rate of women, HackerEarth, a Bangalore-based startup founded in 2012 by two friends -- Sachin Gupta, an IIT-Roorkie computer graduate, and, Vivek Prakash, a programmer -- have announced a Hackathon for women. The first-of-its-kind online hackathon for women in India starting from 6-8 March, 2015, will allow women developers to build products under any of the three themes: Productivity, Social and Gamification.

Apart from the adrenalin rush from the participation, there are also exciting prizes to be won - MacBook Air for the winning team, iPhone 6 for the runners up and iPad Air for the 2nd runners up.

According to an IDC report, out of the 5 million developers in India, only 18 percent are women.

"If you look at the number of women technologists dropping out of coding jobs, it's alarming. We're losing talented programmers at a very high rate, and the technology industry cannot afford that. I believe that this Hackathon will help catalyse a change in the notorious trend,” explains Sachin Gupta.

Women can apply either individually or in teams of two. For registration: http://www.hackerearth.com/women

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Updated Date: Feb 18, 2015 14:30:57 IST