Your address will show here +12 34 56 78

One of the most difficult parts of a hackathon is choosing what to build. Let’s face it, there are plenty of needs, and it seems like those needs have become even greater recently. Faced with a challenge that society has been confronting sporadically for millennia, it’s perfectly understandable why so many people get nauseous at the thought. Here’s how to push through the epic challenge of changing a societal norm that too many people don’t even acknowledge:

  1. Recognize The Role You And The Hackathon Play In Change – This seems simple, but it causes most of the hangups that discourage hackathon participants. Understand that change takes time (Ok, change can take A LOT of time.), and you are not trying to solve all of society’s ills in a few days. You’re working on the big picture by tackling the small, vital parts of it. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle, each one starts with a small, perfectly formed piece that other parts will build on. As far as the Hackathon goes, it’s there to provide a safe place to create. It’s a welcoming, inclusive environment free of many of the distractions and roadblocks you’ll face in your everyday pursuits. Hack The Patriarchy serves as both an incubator for grand ideas and a meeting place for like-minded makers to meet.
  2. Start With A Broad Topic And A Broader Sampling Of Participants – Diversity is more than a catchphrase, it’s a path to success. Select a wide ranging-subject, for instance, the pay gap. With a diverse team, you’ll have people who have witnessed how your chosen topic has played out in real life. 
  3. Narrow Your Focus – Your team’s first-person accounts will help you refine your idea. Using the pay gap idea, you can be sure that every participant has experienced it themselves or knows someone who has. Take a look at the trends that emerge. For this example, we’ll say that lack of promotion opportunities, management unaccepting of non-cismale input, and simple gender-based pay disparity between genders are heavily cited within the group.
  4. Select Your Idea And Form A Concept – While you may see several repetitive themes come from these discussions, choose one. None are necessarily more important than others, but look for the idea that you can have the greatest impact on with your limited hackathon time–nothing says you have to stop there once the event is over. Continuing the example, simple pay disparity is chosen. One possible concept would be an anonymous app that lets employees from marginalized groups offer ratings on the culture at local businesses as a way to warn potential employees of the environment they’re entering. 

The most important part of the hackathon is to form relationships built on the desire for social good. Your idea will be great, but the overall impact of the event will be measured by more than just the builds that come out of it. In the end, we’ll all be stronger together.


Many involved in the field of computer science would never assume that the pioneer of programming was a woman who lived in England in the early 19th century. Ada Lovelace, the daughter of famed poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Milbanke, introduced new ideas that would soon serve as the backbone of computer technology and development. Born in 1815, Lovelace was given something that many young women at the time could only dream of: an education. Given that her mother was a “strictly religious” and highly educated woman, she was soon trained in the field of science and mathematics. Lovelace studied under the greatest mathematicians at the time, including Scottish astronomer Mary Somerville. She grew to love the language of mathematics, and thrived in scientific environments. Seen as an eclectic yet highly intelligent woman, she both intimidated and fascinated those in high society. Her personality was eccentric, abrasive, and “unconventional”. However, due to her knowledge and thirst for academic pursuits, she commanded the attention and respect of those around her. She represents exactly what women of all ages can look up to: a woman who goes against societal standards, pursues knowledge, and is absolutely unapologetic about it. It was not until Lovelace met her friend, mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage, that she was able to realize her full potential as a pioneer of computer technology. Her contributions were partially based on Babbage’s previous invention of the analytical engine, the first computer. Using his research, she created her own idea of repeating instructions, letters, and numbers: a process known today as “looping.” Lovelace’s work went largely unrecognized by the scientific community of the early 19th century, but her achievements became more widely celebrated following the technological revolution. Like many women in her time, she published many of her essays and studies under a pseudonym: A.L.L. However, her contributions to computer science are undeniable in the modern age. Lovelace encouraged women to question, explore, research. Ada Lovelace, the mother of modern computers, continues to serve as a role model nearly 185 years after her death.

At HTP we welcome non-technical team members (which is not always the case at hackathons) and feel that project management is a crucial part of a successful hackathon project. It’s important to avoid “hackers in a cage,” a phrase coined by BLAH BLAH that means:
…one nontechnical founder holds controlling power and treats the hackers as subordinates.
Some articles that can be helpful 27 Ways to Refocus a Team

The word “meritocracy” is extremely popular in the tech world. The ideal is that it is one of the only industries where success is primarily a function of skill. The reality, according to the testimony of many in the industry and to credible reports, is that it is anything but.

There are countless reasons for this that we do not have space to explore here, but one of the keys reasons is that the conventional hiring process has too many filters in which unconscious bias can lower diversity. This may disproportionately affect women and contribute to the sexism and gender imbalances that we see today.

What can be done about this?

As with many other entrenched institutions, techies have decided to hack the hiring process.

CodeFights, a 2014 startup that has already built a large user-base, helps software developers sharpen skills by competing against “bots” in code challenges. Furthermore, developers earn a ranking based on performance that becomes accessible to employers looking to hire.

HackerRank is another site that operates according to this model. Though these sites were not specifically created with creating a more equitable workplace in mind, something very interesting has happened: of the candidates placed by CodeFights, 30% have been women. Though still signifying a minority, that is three times the average of Silicon Valley and a whopping figure to anyone familiar with the imbalances of traditional tech culture.

This hiring model may also help the LGBTQ community, as described in this testimonial of a transgender woman who never expected CodeFights to place her in a job.

Hack the Patriarchy is a hackathon for women and non-binary programmers, founded by Kali Williams, aimed at creating innovative solutions for relevant issues facing marginalized communities around the world. While our first event is specifically women and non-binary, that doesn’t mean our male allies can’t help and support the effort!

In fact, we know that there are thousands of men out there who are as sick of sexism and discrimination in technology and the workplace as we are, and who are eager to make a change. We know that many men want and need to be part of the solution, and we want to include and empower them to support our efforts to the greater benefit of all.

So, guys, here are some ways you can help Hack the Patriarchy:

Spread the word! Share us on social media, mention us to friends and colleagues, and help us gain visibility. Download and share the event information among your groups, and let people know where you stand.

Help us get sponsors! See if your company is willing to be a sponsor, and let them know you want an inclusive workplace.

Volunteer! Get in touch at and find out how you can get involved. The active participation of our male allies is an incredible asset to everyone involved, and helps change culture, one person at a time.

We are passionate about changing the gender disparity in tech, and believe that greater equality means better working conditions, more successful solutions, stronger companies, and stronger communities. Everyone stands to gain when companies and workplaces are more diverse and inclusive, and we can start to make that happen now. We welcome all men who support our vision, and can’t wait to get to work.


The age of computing began during World War II, with machines that were outrageously huge and slow by today’s standards. One of the first people to program these machines was a lieutenant named Grace Hopper. She went on to become one of the most important figures in the early decades of computing. She’s known as the inventor of the COBOL programming language and (rather less accurately) of the term “bug” as applied to computers. The best way to summarize her achievements, though, is that she was the one who demonstrated that “computing” could be more than just mathematical calculations and found many ways to tie it to the real world. Before the war, she was a mathematics professor at Vassar. Following Pearl Harbor, she decided to join the Navy. Her assignment after finishing Midshipmen’s School was a surprise; the Navy sent her to Harvard to work on programming the Mark 1, the first programmable electronic computer. Howard Aiken, who headed the project, was openly disappointed about being assigned a woman, but she quickly showed her worth. One of her innovations was using the machine to format printed output and generate page numbers. This seems normal today, but it was a break from the original idea of a computer just as a number cruncher. At Remington Rand in the fifties, she developed the idea of programming at a higher level, rather than writing individual machine instructions, as well as the idea that ordinary English words could make programs more comprehensible. She developed these ideas into the B-0 business programming language, first made available to customers in 1958, and later dubbed FLOW-MATIC. It wasn’t the first commercially available programming language; IBM claimed that distinction with FORTRAN in 1957. However, FORTRAN stayed close to the number-crunching paradigm, while B-0 aimed at the business market. The Conference on Data Systems and Languages (CODASYL) of 1959 led to a project to design a language that could be used for business and government applications. Following intense debate on what it should look like, Hopper’s faction won out with a design based upon FLOW-MATIC. The first successful demonstration of COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) took place in 1960, and for many years it was the world’s most widely used programming language. Hopper promoted the idea that anyone could use computers, including women. Her idea of using English-like syntax for programming languages eventually fell out of favor, but her vision of computing as something for all kinds of people and all kinds of problems transformed the industry and stands as her legacy. The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, launched in 1994, memorializes her achievements and describes itself as “the world’s largest gathering of women technologists.” This year’s conference will be in Houston on October 19-21.

How did you come up with this event?   I recently started attending hackathons and noticed that like most other tech spaces, it was almost entirely men. My experiences were positive ones, it wasn’t that I felt unwelcome. But I know there are a lot of women & minorities who wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable.   I strongly identify as a feminist and have been an entrepreneur (including event planning) for 15 years so at dinner one night with a friend we were joking around and the phrase “hack the patriarchy” was brought up. I thought it would make a great name for a hackathon, so when I checked and the url was available, I figured it was fate!   This event has totally inspired me and makes me excited for the potential, not only for the experience but for what can come out of it. There are a lot of issues facing women around the world today; from family planning to salary negotiation to safety and more. One thing I’ve learned in my life, is that when groups of passionate, intelligent, inspired people get together, anything is possible.   Another thing that’s really important to me about this event is it’s ability to bring people of all different skill sets together. Traditional hackathons put a heavy focus on engineering & programming and obviously those skills are important. But we also want to bring together makers of all kinds and other creative skills like design & project management. We want to create a welcoming environment that allows anyone to work together to create potential solutions to the obstacles facing women.   Do you have a nonprofit group and what is it called?   I don’t currently have a nonprofit but I’ll likely be setting one up. So in the meantime we’ll call it a not-for-profit event   What is your preferred writing style? casual yet professional?     The word “patriarchy” can be seen as a militant-feminist term, so I want to make sure that it’s emphasized that it’s used in a playful way.

Gender statistics (look in Pocket for article about hackathon gender breakdown) include article links from woman who takes a hiatus from hackathons how digital products are often created with men in mind “brogrammer” attitudes aren’t in the media as much, but they haven’t gone away in tech spaces there are a lot of issues facing women and other minorities, we want to help focus on them