Listening: Step One to Solving Lady Problems

Feedback is a gift. If you’ve been to Facebook HQ — you’ll see the mantra plastered all over the walls. If you’ve worked at a startup, you’ll know how critical feedback is to getting your product off the ground — from customers to investors and everyone in between. If you don’t open the gift, feedback doesn’t have much of an impact.

Feedback is a gift. This is how it makes us feel.

Feedback is a gift — open it. Even if you’re scared.

Over the past week, we launched the Lady Problems Hackathon Series and welcomed feedback from our global community. We’ve heard the good and the bad- and have been listening closely. Based off this feedback, we’re making some slight changes.

Before I jump into these changes, allow me to quickly touch on listening, because it’s important.

A recent article from the Washington Post highlighted how women in the Obama administration’s, the first-ever to achieve gender parity in the White House’s inner circle, had to adopt a strategy called “amplification” to reiterate each other’s points and opinions in order to ensure that they were heard. CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap, a documentary film we will be screening at each Lady Problems Hackathon, highlights how not listening to and including female voices can be damaging and even deadly — care to guess why airbags killed so many women and children in the 1990s? You guessed it — no women engineers at the table.

Listening — it’s important.

That’s why culture is a key component of Lady Problems. How can we hack solutions to ensure that women’s voices, a vital component of any successful product, are heard in the workplace?

So here we are, post-Lady Problems launch. You had some ideas, we’re making some changes. Here they are:

  1. Moving from Fresh Code to Not-So-Fresh Code: the problems we are trying to solve at this hack are critical — we cannot move forward if half of us are held back. We want to make sure that all possible solutions have a chance to be seen and heard at our hacks. There may be some amazing projects addressing these issues already brewing, and we want to see them. So we’re allowing people to pre-code their projects should they chose to, otherwise you’re welcome to do it the old-fashioned way and sling some fresh code starting the morning of the hackathon.
  2. New Judging Criteria:… Due to the not-so-fresh code rule, we’ve added a judging criteria to check for relevance. All projects created at Lady Problems must be relevant to the challenges and goal of solving problems facing female entrepreneurs, including health, safety, economic empowerment and culture.
  3. Updated Challenges: We’ve made slight tweaks to economic empowerment and culture challenges to be more inclusive and positive about potential solutions. Check them out here:
  4. Virtual Pitching — We recognize that for various reasons, including childcare, work commitments, transportation and finances — not everyone can make it to our hackathons. But, we know a lot of you are eager to solve Lady Problems! So, we’re welcoming virtual pitches for this hack. Simply join the event for the city nearest you, submit your project, including “Virtual” in the title by the submission deadline, and hop on the google hangout for the event to pitch during demos. Voila!

So that’s the news from Lady Problems HQ — we’re listening, and we’re making moves to solve lady problems in the most effective way we possibly can. Keep the feedback coming by commenting below, or become a part of the conversation through #LadyProblems.

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