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Blog, Community
Inclusive entrepreneurship is one of the White House’s goals to make technology and tech start ups more diverse, inclusive, and transparent. With an eye toward hiring practices that reflect the American population, thirty companies signed the White House Tech Inclusion Pledge to increase and track diversity and inclusion in their workforces.

The pledge called for companies to set workforce diversity goals and then track and publish the results, as well as to invest in partnerships that will allow diverse talent to be recognized and supported. Innovation and entrepreneurship can be used as tools to create a more equitable, secure, and globally connected world.

A report sponsored by Intel and Dahlberg Global Development Advisors estimates that  $470 to $570 billion in new value for the US technology sector could be generated if the tech industry embraced American gender and ethnic diversity. The United State of Women is another summit sponsored by the White House designed to address issues that impact women’s ability to succeed. Their entrepreneurship and innovation goals address the need for equity in access to capital and market share, and methods include training programs, increased access to credit and federal contracting for women-owned business, and participation in global entrepreneurship initiatives.

Laura Weidman Powers, co-founder of CODE2040, a company founded to address the diversity gap in the tech industry, is currently a senior policy advisor to US Chief Technology officer Megan Smith. CODE2040 is implementing a number of hiring support programs for minorities, such as sponsoring internships and their new Entrepreneur in Residence program. CODE2040’s goal is to provide leadership and opportunity for underrepresented minorities in the innovation economy.

At the first White House sponsored South by South Lawn: A Festival of Ideas, Art, and Action, Stewart Butterfield, cofounder of Slack, proposed that companies start a vigorous diversity and inclusion hiring plan when they are small, so they can work through problems and develop systems. While the bottom line may be impacted by diverse hiring practices, Butterfield says,  “that’s not why we do it.  Tech lives inside a society with systemic racism.”Save

Blog, Tech History
A graduate of MIT, Radia Perlman’s first major contribution to tech was to create a toddler-oriented version of the LOGO programming language, which she called TORTIS. After graduating with a Ph.D in Computer Science in 1988, she moved on to work for Digital Equipment Corporation, then one of the world’s largest computer hardware vendors. It was during her time there that she would write an algorithm that modern networks still lean on: Spanning Tree Protocol (STP). STP is one of the cornerstones of Ethernet networks and is critical in bridging operations.

While it’s stretching a bit far to say that she invented the Internet, it’s also true that the modern Internet (not to mention local area networks) would not exist as we know it without her work. STP prevents networks from creating bridging loops, which can eventually create a “broadcast storm” that can bring the entire network to a halt in seconds. While Radia will likely never be a household name with the general public, the legacy of her work is found in every device that uses the Ethernet protocol.

Members of the tech community who know their history recognize her contributions, however, with a number of them dubbing her “The Mother of the Internet.” She humbly rejects that title, telling The Atlantic in a 2014 interview that no one person should lay claim to having invented the Internet. Radia continues to work in the field, most recently as a fellow for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

She also continues to speak out about the need for greater diversity in the tech industry, and the stereotypes that women are still struggling to overcome to consistently gain stature and recognition equal to that of their male peers.

Is there a female tech pioneer or prominent woman in the modern industry you’d like to see featured?Save

Blog, Hackathon Info
The term “hackathon” has most likely been in informal use since the word “hacking” was coined. But in terms of official events with the “hackathon” label, the first on record was the OpenBSD Hackathon of 1999.

This gathering didn’t have much of a formal structure, as it was really more about a group of American developers side-stepping export regulations. The event must have been fun (or at least very productive), however, since it spawned an annual invitation-only series that switched focus to freeform OpenBSD coding. Sun also used the term for an event at the JavaOne conference that same year shortly after the OpenBSD event took place.

While there’s still no formal structure to (or even specific dictionary definition of) a hackathon, their increasing popularity over the past decade has led to at least something of a standardized format. They’re usually organized around a central theme — game development for a particular platform, work on an open-source project, developing apps, or even a particular intersection of science and tech such as bioinformatics. Things kick off with some presentations, maybe some workshops. Then the participants are turned loose to code amongst themselves, often organized into groups by their areas of expertise.

A few interesting branches of the hackathon have been emerging in the last few years. One is the socially-focused or charitable hackathon, such as the annual NHS Hackaday and Random Hacks of Kindness. Another is the company-sponsored hackathon, held internally for employees by major tech players like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Netflix. And some are demographically inclusive, like the hackathons hosted by the Meera Kaul Foundation that focus on increased representation of women in the STEM fields. Whatever the form it’s packaged in, the hackathon is ultimately a celebration of code, and an excuse for techies to get together and geek out in an environment resembling a cross between a college LAN party and a sleepover while still creating something productive (or at least interesting.) Beginners who are interested in the idea but aren’t sure where to start might want to check out CodeDay, a regular event held in cities throughout the United States that welcomes newcomers in all different fields. SaveSave

Blog, Inspiration
It’s 2016. On those days, grey and rainy usually, when I wake up thinking apps are getting redundant if not outright overly-fetishized (you know, like tech co’s gone all yep-our-swooshes-make-our-shoes-worth-$500-regardless-of-production-costs), I pinch myself and then try listing the names of the good guys, those ethical apps + designers that/who are going to make qualitative differences in our world.

I admit sometimes my listing becomes chanting, almost as if I am creating my own zenned out religious ideology, one built upon the technological possibilities of today and an unwavering belief in a better future. But who knows? Perhaps some day I will have a follower or two. For now, can I introduce you to my faves? No ritualistic participation required.

1. Ankommen: This app, released by the German government, has been turning heads since it launched in early 2016. Available for download in Arabic, English, Farsi, French, and German, Ankommen (meaning “Arrive”) is designed to facilitate the integration of refugees and asylum seekers into their new countries. On the chance you ignore the news and wonder about the broader implications of such an app, check out Ai Wei Wei’s documentation of Syrian refugees on Instragram this year.

2. Blendoor: Developed by Stephanie Lampkin who is black + female + an engineer who has been coding since the age of 13, this app is the new Tinder of coding. Except your photo is replaced by your resume, making it, thereby, the opposite of Tinder. By creating a platform that matches coders’ resumes to jobs, Lampkin is doing serious damage to the way-too-long history of sexism and racism in tech hiring practices.

3. Q: CEO Eric Cervini created this app with the goal of eradicating the misogyny, racism, and other dehumanizing practices (especially via commentary) plaguing early attempts at creating online LQBTQIA community. Unlike its predecessors, Q is about complicating how the queer community interacts online, decentering the body, and embracing inclusivity as never before.

4. Okay, this one hasn’t happened yet, but last month Google awarded 500,000 USD to Ella Baker Center fellow, Patrisse Cullors, who is working to develop a #BLM app in collaboration with the ACLU. This will be an app for reporting police violence in real time, and I am certain it will rank among my favorites as soon as it launches.

Blog, Hackathon Info
How many times have you pitched at a hackathon? I bet you invested about five percent of your energy (at best) preparing for the pitch ―am I wrong?

I mean, I bet you spent 95 percent of your energy thinking “code, code, code” like the rest of us, no? But the thing is, the pitch matters the same way that first impressions matter. And you have to quit pitching to coders if you want to get good because coders aren’t your only audience. The people listening to your pitch are far more likely to think like venture capitalists than coders. They’re ideas people, you know? So, what’s my advice? Pitch like you’re pitching to VCs. Make sure they know why your idea matters, that that idea is well formulated,  and then finally, make sure they know why you are the right person to be pitching the idea. Get it?

The steps go something like this:

1. Explain away the “So what?” No really, at a hackathon as in life, what matters most is that your idea matters, and I shouldn’t have to figure out why. I shouldn’t have to weave the pieces together, pull some Sherlock Holmes “Ah-haaa, there’s the little bugger” when trying to discern the import of your idea. Instead, you need to start your pitch with a description of the broader implications of your idea.

2. And don’t just start with the broader implications: hit me in the face with them. Again, really. Make my brain explode. Let’s say you convince me you’ve got an app to cure cancer, and you do so by showing me rather than telling me how that will happen. See how all that follows matters so much less, as long as I am already in your pocket, convinced you are about to cure cancer with an app? Show me, don’t tell me, what you are about to do, and make sure I wake up with a black eye.

3. Be tight, concise, and meaning-filled all the way through. Because that’s what VCs want and that’s what the judges want. Pretend you are asking Jeff Bezos for a million dollars to launch the for profit venture of your dreams. Are you going to stammer? Are you going to play “look how likeable I am”? Or are you going to kill it with your confidence and look-at-me-I’ve-explored-every-possible-outcome-and-know-my-numbers-ness? VCs and judges are looking for the latter.

4. Don’t be afraid to use anecdotes and ethnographic vignettes, narrative story, and emotional hooks. Get to the heart of why your idea matters and find an emotionally impactful way to share that. Hook with the heartstrings then reel ’em in.

5. And finally, tell them why you? Maybe I buy the importance of your idea. And I buy your effective presentation skills. But let’s say three teams came out with the same idea for P2P rideshare services at more or less the same time (and yeah, I mean like the Lyft and Uber and Sidecar dudes all did): Why do I like you with your idea better than somebody else with your idea? How do you convince me that I want you and your idea in tandem? This is how you can knock your pitch out of the park. Save SaveSave

Blog, Tech History
Grace Hopper is the most badass woman in tech that you haven’t heard of. She was one of the world’s first computer scientists, helped the U.S. win World War II, revolutionized programming languages, and is rumored to have coined a term that everyone still uses today — computer bug.

Grace earned her PhD in Math from Yale University in 1934. When WWII started, she joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the programming team for the Mark I, one of the world’s earliest computers. This computer was used for many military calculations, most notably The Manhattan Project.

After the war Grace continued her work in computing. She invented the first compiler in 1952, but it took two years for people to actually believe that it worked. It’s hard to imagine computers today without compilers, and the structure of programming languages today is largely due to her efforts in this area.

Grace Hopper is also often credited with finding the first “computer bug,” an actual moth that got into the Mark II computer and caused an error. It’s not clear whether she coined the term or just found an actual bug that was causing a “bug,” but it’s an amusing anecdote to remember the leading lady of computers.

Today, she is memorialized in the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, a series of conferences where women from all over the world come to share ideas and learn from each other. Sponsored by Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology and the Association for Computing Machinery, it’s the largest gathering of women in technology, attracting over 12,000 attendees in 2015.Save

Blog, Diversity & Inclusion
You know already that we have a serious shortage of women coders. Or if you don’t, you might check out Ciara Byrne’s three-year-old piece on the loneliness of women coders here. You know, too, that gender biases continue to devalue women’s salaries. Recall that whole 1990’s “women earn 72 cents to the dollar of a man” platitude? By 2015 women earned 79 percent of men’s earnings, and according to the group Women’s Policy Research, women won’t receive equal pay until 2059. You probably also know that New York’s Mayor Bloomberg warned we must learn to “program or be programmed“–that was all the way back in 2012.

Here’s what you don’t know:

In Feb of this year, a researcher at Cal Poly teamed up with 4 more researchers at North Carolina State to conduct a study of gender bias in open source. And they found that in open source software communities “women’s contributions tend to be accepted more often than men’s.” This was as long as women’s gender remained unidentifiable.

As soon as women were known to be women, according to the study, they were rejected at higher rates than their male counterparts. (See study cited above for details.) You’re angry, right? Our point is that women are killer coders. But that’s not the end. Today coding really can make our lives better, and we want to show you why:

1. Employment opportunities are greater in number than ever before: “In 2015, Intel pledged $300 million to increasing diversity in its offices. Google pledged $150 million and Apple is donating $20 million, all to producing a tech workforce that includes more women and non-white workers” (TechInsider). In short, by 2016 everybody wants anybody who isn’t a white man.

2. Related to the above, getting hired is suddenly just like Tindering. Except it’s the opposite of Tindering, because Blendoor does merit-based matching. Adios, gender-bias in hiring practices.

3. Flexibility, flexibility, and flexibility:
More employment opportunities means you’ll be more marketable, and this means you will have greater flexibility in choosing how and where and for whom (yourself? another?) you will work.

4. Coding pays better than cleaning.
And lawyering, and doctoring, and a lot of other things, too. Which means, if we are to believe those people who call coding “fun,” coding allows you to DWYL while continuing to spend too much on heels, or horses, or whatever your compulsion may be.Save

Blog, Diversity & Inclusion, Hackathon Info
Hackathons are leading the way in creating opportunities in tech for both women and people of color. With women making up less than 5% of the leadership roles in technology, and people of color even less than that being only 2% of the workforce in Silicon Valley, hackathons are making it possible for these numbers to increase over the years.

Let’s look at why we need more women & diversity focused hackathons.

1. Shines a Light on Untapped Creative Resources Problem solving is the name of the game in the tech industry. Having the ability to find creative solutions to everyday problems is what it is all about. But, it has been overlooking some of the most creative people in our entire society; women and people of color. Popular opinion has shown that the creativity of communities of color is an untapped resource and something the tech industry needs to recognize. They also need to recognize that women bring the fire when it comes to problem solving. Being known best for their ability to multi-task and dig into the heart of a problem in order to find the best solution, women are essential to the growth of any organization. Hackathons provide both demographics with the opportunity they need to shine.

2. Fosters Teamwork It takes teamwork to truly produce something worth any real-world value in the tech industry. When people come together in order to solve a single problem they are no longer individuals, they quickly become a team. Through hackathons, they are able to work with some of the most brilliant minds in the game in order to positively impact the rest of the world through the use of technology. Women and diversity focused hackathons bring women together with other like-minded women, allows cultural connections across the board, and inspires organizations to support the changes needed to further the industry.

3. Produces Self-Confidence In order to succeed at anything you must first have the skills needed to get the job done. This is where hackathons can have the biggest impact on both women and people of color. For those interested in the tech industry, whether you are new to the field or an expert coder, hackathons will challenge you. Women and diversity focused hackathons tackle one of the biggest challenges we face today, bridging the gap between differentiating ourselves as individuals while satisfying our desire to belong to a group who appreciates us. Creativity, teamwork, and confidence is what has made the tech industry one of the most successful industries of all time.

Creating more hackathons that are women and diversity focused will ensure that it stays that way.Save

Blog, Community
Getting its start in the 1990’s, hackathons began as a way for organizations and companies to brainstorm about various issues through the use of many diverse opinions. Hackathons provide a venue for self-expression and creativity through technology. By engaging in an atmosphere of teamwork and collaboration, those with interest in coding and technology are able to come together around an issue until a solution is found. The solutions will generally take the shape of a new website, mobile app, or robot. Hackathons have taken the idea of brainstorming to a whole new level by bridging the gap between collaboration and competition.

However, women are rarely in attendance at traditional hackathon events.

In order to understand the popularity of hackathon events & the low attendance by women, we have to begin by pinpointing why more women don’t attend hackathons and how the rise in hackathon popularity over the years have been greatly contributed to by the women who do attend and get involved in organizing..

According to common responses, there are several reasons why women tend to stay away from hackathon events.

The first reason is that they don’t like being surrounded by sexism. Women are not a minority, they are 50% of the majority. They have great visions to offer the world of technology but only when being treated as an equal part of the solution. Feeling safe and supported is a higher priority for women and gender non-conforming individuals.

Even though women make up 56% of the general workforce, only 25% of IT jobs held by women and only 5% of tech startups are founded by women.

Second, a lack of confidence. It is not uncommon for a woman to feel like an outsider, (even if she’s an experienced programmer) when standing in a room full of men who might tend towards sexism. These feelings can drive women away from wanting to get involved in the “brogrammer” culture. The third and final reason is a lack of time. Although the pace of the world has sped up over the last decade, women are still doing it all, just with less time in which to do it. When NASA researched the ebb and flow of women attendee’s at their hackathons, they saw that women, “often have family responsibilities and couldn’t just attend a hackathon for fun.”

With that being said however, there are plenty of women who have stepped up to the tech plate in order to create better opportunities for the next generation of women in STEM.

Female code initiatives such as Girl GeekWomen Who Code, and Girl Develop It have contributed, not only to the rise of female attendance at hackathons, but also to the social acceptance of the vital role that women play in field of technology. They continue to pave the way for more women to step into their destiny through the use of technology.

Five Women Who Influenced Computer History - HackThePatriarchy.comWomen have played an important role in the world of computers from the beginning.

Many people call Ada Lovelace “the first programmer,” but “the first computer scientist” would be more accurate. Charles Babbage never completed his Analytical Engine, and it wasn’t possible to write actual code for it, but Lovelace demonstrated in detail how to turn an algorithm into a computer program. Even more important, she saw broad possibilities in “the science of operations,” recognizing it could be applied to any subject. It would be a century before technology could catch up to her ideas.

Edith Clarke also did her most important work before the computer era, but her work in electrical engineering prefigured computers. In 1919 she became the first woman to get a degree in electrical engineering from MIT. At General Electric she devised a graphical calculator that solved problems of current, voltage, and impedance in power lines. Before the electronic devices, “computers” meant people (usually women) whose work consisted of calculations, and she trained and directed a team at AT&T.

Frances “Betty” Holberton worked as a “computer” during World War II, performing ballistics calculations, and then became a member of the ENIAC programming team, the first people to program an electronic computer. Programming the ENIAC wasn’t a matter of writing code in a language, but more one of reverse-engineering the machine. She later participated in the development of the UNIVAC computer and the creation of the COBOL programming language.

When we talk about COBOL, we immediately think of Admiral Grace Hopper, whose great achievement might be summarized as relating computers to common sense. She headed the team that devised FLOW-MATIC, the first business-oriented programming language, at Remington Rand. She followed this up with COBOL, which for many years was the dominant computer language for business applications. Her work on these languages demonstrated that non-mathematicians could write computer code.

Susan Kare was an artist who joined the team developing the original Macintosh computer. Her contributions to its graphic user interface included proportional screen typefaces, as well as icons for operations like “cut,” “paste,” and “trash,” which GUIs have imitated ever since. Satisfying Steve Jobs was never easy, and the images that reached the Mac were just the top selections from many proposals that she created. Without the contributions of these women, computing wouldn’t be what it is today.Save