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Blog, Diversity & Inclusion

In many ways, start-ups are the ideal job for millennial and progressive people of all ages. They offer flexibility, innovation, and opportunity to grow. However, not all start-ups are as progressive in their social practices as they are with their business practices. Start-ups in Silicon Valley have been long criticized for their sexist policies and company culture. The following start-ups are woman-tested, woman-approved.


Kapor Capital

Investment is one of the hardest industries to break into for women, but this start-up investment firm is female-focused with more than of half of investments being led by a woman. This firm also demonstrated its commitment to women when it hired Ellen Pao, the woman who made history by suing a famous Silicon Valley venture capital firm for discrimination.


Lyft

Although this company may not be seen as a start-up anymore due to its rapid growth, Lyft has distinguished itself by having one of the lowest gender pay gaps of only seven cents on the dollar. 81% of women report feeling valued by their coworkers. They also offer one of the longest maternity leaves in the United States at 12 weeks.


Automattic

This tech company is most notable for starting WordPress.com and also owns the spam filtering software, Askimet. The start-up may only have a staff of 24% women, but men and women receive raises at equal rates. This is no small feat in the tech industry, where the gap is typically much larger.

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Blog, Inspiration
It’s a simple formula–find a problem and then do something about it.

DoSomething.org is a nonprofit giving kids the structure and support they need to change their world. The problem? 90% of Wikipedia editors are men. So the Girls-Only Edit-a-Thon was born, a group project to encourage girls to host edit-a-thon parties and work on female-focused wiki pages together. The DoSomething.org platform page for the campaign provides information, support, suggestions, and a blueprint for change. Girls and groups from all over the world can sign up and sign on to do some good.

Does Wikipedia have a gender gap among its editors, and if so, does that fact bias content on the site? Wikimedia, the umbrella organization that manages Wikipedia, says yes to both. It is believed that the hacker/high-conflict culture drives many women away from engaging in thoughtful discourse. Wikipedia, in their article about the wiki gender gap, describes several contributing factors. A high-tech skills gap was noted, along with the conflict culture and gender differences in language and linguistics.

Wikipedia leadership has committed to making a difference in gender disparity, in wiki-type language: “We’re going to double-down on this problem!” Several other changes are being developed, including the Wikipedia Teahouse, a friendlier user-interface with welcoming for newcomers. In addition to the Girls-Only Edit-a-Thon, which is targeted to high school aged teens, there has been an edit-a-thon yearly for the past several years called Women in Science. The goal of this yearly online activity is to increase the number of prominent women in science with Wiki pages.
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Blog, Diversity & Inclusion
The Southern Poverty Law Center has a long history of teaching and providing educational resources on the subjects of tolerance, inclusion, diversity, and race through their Teaching Tolerance Project. Their roots in the civil rights movements in the 1960s has made them a long-standing expert in this field.

Children today are seeing different examples of systematic racism and violence, and the information they are accessing and discussing is not always balanced and accurate. The Teaching Tolerance Project has developed a crowdsourced group of resources for classroom teachers to use in discussing current issues of race, tolerance, and institutional violence in America. Race, Racism, and Police Violence is a collection of lesson plans, resources, blogs and articles, with external resources, and includes information about how to respond when violence touches the classroom.

These are complex, divisive issues. Our children are trying to make sense of what is happening. Teachers can guide their discussions and provide them with a balanced view of what is happening and how to respond. Education Week has a list of resources for teachers and by teachers about how to address race and deal with students of all grade levels responding to violence in their communities.

The DC Public School system has adopted a group of resources teachers can use to facilitate discussions in the classroom called Preparing to Discuss Race and Police Violence.  This list of suggestions and resources was adapted from the Teachable Moments classroom lessons of the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.
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There are a variety of metrics you can choose to determine whether you have a “successful” hackathon, for a lot of attendees focusing on the process, the creativity and the collaboration means that every experience is a success (and I agree!) Focusing on finishing a project and potentially winning prizes is a different kind of success. Real businesses have been launched from projects originally built at hackathon, and the environment is excellent for learning, practicing and and building your skills. Here are 10 Tips to help you have the best possible hackathon experience:
  1. Find your team ahead of time – If you and your team mates have some extra time to get to know each other and brainstorm together, that will save you a lot of time the day of the event.
  2. Brainstorm strategically – Mind maps are an excellent way to corral your ideas into potential projects, and if you keep your focus on one or two main problems you’d like to solve, you’re more likely to come up with a workable solution.
  3. Don’t get too grandiose – You have to have at least some part of the hack working when it comes time for presentation, so you don’t want to dream too big. This is one instance when a time restriction will help you if you let it. Stay focused on what you can actually achieve in the time you have.
  4. Make a plan – spend some front-loaded time making a plan. Sketching out what your goals are and how you think you’ll achieve them will give you guideposts along the way as your project develops.
  5. Be adaptable -But even if you have a plan, you can’t stay married to it. Be willing to pivot if the idea needs working over or if the tech capabilities aren’t what you expected as you go through trial and error.
  6. Be clear on who’s doing what – It’s helpful to for each person to be clear on what their task list is, but be willing to help each other out. You should all be working towards the same goal. Teamwork is the name of the game here.
  7. Communicate – If you need help, ask. If something isn’t clear, ask. Have an idea for a solution? Speak up. Have a concern about the solution being discussed? Share with the group. The team who communicates clearly will have a leg up on others who don’t.
  8. Don’t skimp on presenting – The best idea in the world won’t get any attention if no one understands what it is, what it does or who should care. Take some time to plan what you’ll say and how the demo will proceed. Even better, have a teammate who focuses on sharing & fine tuning the message & presentation.
  9. Have a workable demo – Only working demos are eligible for prizes, so if that’s a priority to you, make sure you have something that shows at least part of what your project is intended to do.
  10. Don’t forget to have fun! – Amid all the stress or pressure you might feel, don’t forget to have a great time. Yes, it would be awesome if something world-changing (and/or bank account changing) comes out of it, but you can’t get too wrapped up in the outcome. See the hackathon as an opportunity to collaborate, practice your skills and to connect with others who want to use technology to change the world!
10 Tips for a Successful Hackathon from HackThePatriarchy.com
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I’ve assembled this resource list to help you have the best experience possible. I’ll continue to update it with new links often, so check back!

For learning before the hackathon

Articles about hackathons

Other Articles of Interest

Brainstorming & Planning

Even though a lot of these use the word “startup” the tools are also useful for planning out a project for a hackathon. Not every hackathon project has to be a good business idea, but the brainstorming tools can be helpful.

Design & Description

Presentation

Interested in planning a hackathon? – check out this page
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Hack the Patriarchy is a new hackathon being planned in Silicon Valley to focus on the issues that women face in the world. We will be releasing more information soon, in the mean time please sign up for our newsletter (look for the form in the right column!) and you’ll be sent any announcements.
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