HACK.Bangalore and women’s power

Bangalore, October 25, 2016, midnight, my birthday: I’m standing in the middle of my competitors, receiving best wishes and eating a cake they brought just for me. How did that happen? We’re celebrating the end of an exceptional event: the “Hack.Bangalore”, a 24-hour hackathon organized by MBRDI, in which fifteen teams met the challenge of creating a usable software within the given time.

Taking part in this event was a rare chance for all of us. A hackathon environment is the perfect place to foster skills like collaboration, effective communication and rapid prototyping. Also, we were given the chance to interact with business executives from MBRDI and Daimler and learned a lot from them.

Women with vision

My team’s intention was to set up a system that tracks driver distraction and gives voice alerts. You may now think that this is just one of many IT projects evolving all around the world. Could be. But there is something special about my team: It is made up of only women, all studying computer science at IIIT-Bangalore.

Dreaming of a career as an IT-Woman

Why is this worth mentioning? We have all heard about the stereotypes like “women have to ultimately give up their career” or “women are naturally averse to technology”. As for me, I have never really understood why there is a skewed sex ratio in IT classes.

I have been dreaming of a career in IT since I met this inspiring woman at a computing competition I attended in 7th grade. Her passion for technology affected and motivated me to explore this field. And eventually I knew: this is where I belong.

Working harder to dream bigger

From that time on, my personal experience has been very positive. My family and my professors have always pushed me to work harder and dream bigger. For all prejudices, men have been respectful and supportive of my contributions to projects we’ve worked on. And why should they not? I believe that we need to focus on collaboration, no matter whether the ideas come from a man or a woman. Encouragement and support should always overshadow the prejudices women have to face.

Hacking = dirty Hands

So why is the number of women participating in hackathons still so small? I feel that hacking is equivalent to getting your hands dirty, diving deep into the code and playing with it. But we, women, are conditioned to play safe, be perfect, not take risks. Maybe that’s why women don’t even give it a try. Also, I know that safety issues are a great concern at an overnight operation.

If the organization took this into account, I’m confident that the number of female participants would increase. Women should support and motivate one another in order to gain confidence and belief in their abilities. We need to be independent and capable of living in this IT-driven world without feeling helpless.

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