Celebrating the Young Women of #FemHack

The crowd beamed with pleasure as each team crossed the stage. One by one, cheering on each other, they took  the microphone to share their projects. Four teams of young women at  our first annual #femhack had two minutes to explain the problem they were trying to solve and how they would solve it.

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We had twelve participants from around Connecticut.

participants

We began the day with an icebreaker. It was one I poached from the We Are LRNG conference. You basically ask people to draw their social media profile on a post it note. It works and can be fun. Plus you get a sly little name tag next to participants.

writing on post it

Only one of the teams had any previous coding experience.

A few of the young women attended our YouthZone sessions the previous day where we used Mozilla’s X-Ray Goggles to “hack” school websites and Mozilla’s Thimble to make memes. Students learned about different HTML tags as they remixed the the images, headings, and paragraphs on he pages. During Youth Zone one participant remixed an animal shelter website where her parents used to work. She made them the world’s best animal rescuers.

The other participants had never peaked behind the curtains before so we started Saturday  with Thimble and the Letters#2nextprez campaign. The participants all shared their ideas on how to get more women into tech.

workshop

They then had the rest of the day to work on their projects:

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Diversity in tech will not happen at Google, Twitter, and Facebook. We will not solve this issue in Silicon Valley. The work must happen in our cities , schools, and community colleges. Our networks grown in churches and Girl Scouts. In programs like Gear Up. Once diversity is an HR issue its already too late.

We must remember that America NEVER scored the highest on any international assessments of learning. Expansion through genocide and centuries of slavery leaves long lasting scars…but the United States of America WAS  always the place the best and the brightest wanted to be. We must preserve this uniquely American advantage. Yet the xenophobia rhetoric in todays’ politics is a direct threat to our economic future.

Luckily the #femhack participants had awesome role models and mentors. Young men and women from around the globe teamed up, each assigned to a group…but it quickly became a network of mentors. If you needed web design help find UT, Javascript look for Nicole, etc. Mario, Omar, Sahir, Alec, and every member of the Computer Science Club all pitched in to make the day successful.

onchair

Most importantly they lit a path for the young women to see a future in tech where no voices are silenced or lost.

The Projects

Campaign Core- This team created a place for students who want to get involved in different social justice campaigns. It is a database of social media accounts . The goal is to connect users to topics that matter. There are also lessons on running effective social media campaigns for change.

EZCodeThis project is designed to teach kids basic HTML. There are flash cards that have questions one one side and directions on the other. There is also a directory of places you can learn to code.

RPGgeniuses- This was a role playing game that had kids learn HTML and CSS. Students were given a guide, completed scenarios where they learned lessons, and then would complete a quiz.

Danbury Girls Who Code– The Danbury Branch of “Girls Who Code” designed a website for their club to recruit members,

 

 

 

Greg McVerry

Greg McVerry is a teacher, researcher and scholar at Southern Connecticut State University.

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