ATHENAtechne: Memphis’ First All Women’s Hackathon Is This Weekend
There’s a new way for young Memphians to learn about technology and coding, and it’s the ATHENAtechne hackathon happening this weekend July 20 and 21 at The University of Memphis.
While other local groups regularly host awesome coding and hackathon events, ATHENAtechne is the first one in Memphis specifically tailored for women and non-binary people from diverse backgrounds of all ages.
The National Center For Women and Information Technology reports that as of 2017, only 26 percent of computing jobs are held by women, and only 3 percent of those jobs are held by African-American women. Events like ATHENAtechne could be the open door that young women – especially women of color – need to explore tech, coding, and other STEM fields as a career option.
But wait. Let me back up…what the heck is a hackathon?
I’d heard the term for years, but I had absolutely no idea exactly what it meant until a few weeks ago. In short, a hackathon is an intense session of computer programming and tech-related problem solving by teams; at the end, teams typically present their solutions. “Hacking” here is a kind of shorthand for a collaboration of computer, coding, design, and project management skills.
For ATHENAtechne, participants can be brand-new to coding or have some experience. Their website’s definition distills it down to simply an “invention marathon”.
You may have visions of computer scientists staying up all night trying banging on keyboards, eating pizza, and using their different skills to fix tech problems. Now imagine that, but it’s all young women, with plenty of experienced pros and mentors around to guide the teams.
The event is hosted by the FedEx Institute of Technology at The University of Memphis and Memphis Women In Tech, with support from tech nonprofts like Tech901, Code Crew, HackMemphis, Blockchain901, and other local sponsors.
It kicks off this afternoon at the FedEx Institute of Technology, when participants will form teams and receive their “problems” (aka projects) for the weekend. Then the hacking begins. On Saturday morning, they’ll be back at it for more coding and teamwork sessions, plus a keynote speech from Brit Fitzpatrick of MentorMe, Inc.
I know that normally I promote events that you can sign up for or participate in, and this post is last minute. Regardless, I wanted this share with you, my fellow Memphis lovers, because it’s yet another very cool thing that Memphians have organized. There’s about 200 people signed up. You can follow along with the event on ATHENAtechne’s social media on Twitter or Facebook.
A final note. My parents sent me to various arts, writing, and even once, an engineering camp (there were only two women at that, by the way) and I know for a fact those experiences made a difference in my career choices, confidence, and interests. It’s great that this is happening this weekend for girls in tech in Memphis, and I have a sneaky feeling that it’s the first of many such programs.