Girls In Tech (GIT, not to be confused with Git), is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women pursuing careers in technology. Since its inception in 2007, this international organization, based in over 50 cities around the world, has sponsored a number of programs and conferences, including the recent Hacking For Humanity. This isn’t GIT’s first hackathon, and over the decade that they’ve been in existence, their events have included partnerships with the likes of NASA and ESPN. However, this competition aims to encourage collaboration and make a difference across the globe.
Described as a “Social Innovation Hackathon,” Hacking For Humanity recently made its debut in Melbourne, Australia. Each woman-led team was partnered with a charity, who had five minutes to describe a problem they were looking to solve. From there, teams would work to provide the charity with a functional, innovative, and unique solution.
The winning charity received $2000, along with the benefits conferred by the implemented solution. In this case, the winner was the Missing Persons Advocacy Network, whose team added a feature to kickstart personal campaigns, making it easy for individuals to request donations and create content for social media. It even includes resources for creating flyers or posters to print and distribute to aid in a search for a missing person.
Other projects included a service for refugees to locate nearby reproductive health services, on behalf of mAdapt, and a data system for visualizing patient treatment and engagement for the Lungitude Foundation. GIT has stated that the purpose of Hacking For Humanity is for women to become “a global force for change,” a notion supported by the fact that more Hacking For Humanity events are slated to take place in cities around the world over the next year.
Another one of the events organized by Girls In Tech is the Catalyst Conference, a three-day annual event focused on promoted women in technological workplaces and giving them the chance to network and hear from industry leaders, including Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo. Topics at previous conferences have been fairly diverse, including breaking into business as a startup, finding an ideal work-life balance, and the necessity of workplace diversity.
Even outside of larger events, GIT works to further technology education, offering mentorship programs along with their Global Classroom, an online service dedicated to teaching the basics of design, CSS, and HTML. Through GIT M, women are paired with mentors based on their level of experience, from professionals to university students to younger girls, and encouraged to provide their mentees with the resources, knowledge, and opportunities necessary to succeed in the technology industry. Some mentorship programs even specialize in working in underprivileged populations, striving to create equal opportunities everywhere.
In a recent interview with TechNewsWorld, GIT CEO Adriana Gascoigne expressed the importance of showing young girls the variety of career options available to them, stating that “It’s important to have role models and expose girls to women in these fields, whether they’re astronomers or computer scientists. They should be exposed to all of these women and understand that it’s a fun career path, and one that’s making a huge impact on the world.”
Gascoigne started GIT after working for a startup that she noticed was not particularly diverse. She extols the virtues of an office mixed by race and gender, and works with GIT to see her vision through.