When we started planning UNIHACK 2015, the first thing we started looking was how can we improve the participation of women at our event. This was because last year’s event saw only five women (out of 37 attendees) attending. We also had only one female judge (Nikki Parker, formerly from Freelancer) on the panel.
That is why we included a diversity commitment in our sponsorship prospectus — to increase the participation of women and minorities at our event.
And I am proud of what we have achieved so far.
We reached out to groups representing LGBT and Women in ICT and Engineering in almost all Australian universities to help spread the word about UNIHACK. As such, we managed to increase the number (and the ratio) of women at the event.
Out of 84 attendees, 18 were female. This is roughly a ratio of 1:5.
That ratio of students reflects the latest ABS stats on women who study IT at university, according to Paula Ngov from DiUS — who also presented a Diversity in IT tech talk at the event.
We also increased the number of women who were judging at this year’s event — with April Staines (NAB and Girl Geek Academy), Atlanta Daniel (formerly of Oxygen Ventures) and Bonnie Macdonald (PwC) joining Miguel Wood (Euler’s Bridge and Startup Victoria), Jason Cormier (Mashery), Andrew van der Stock (Threat Intelligence) and Hadi Michael (Deloitte Digital) to help us decide the winner of UNIHACK 2015.
We also enlisted the help of Bec Martin — a UNIHACK 2014 winner (Best Design, Best Use of PayPal/Braintree API) and EY graduate — to help us judge Best First Year Hack.
But what I am most excited about in terms of a diversity standpoint is that there were a significant number of female students as prize winners. This year’s winners, Destroy My Idea (pictured above) had two female hackers and two male hackers. Fite Me, which was awarded second place and Best Design, had two female hackers and one male hacker.
In terms of the minor prizes: This App (winner of the Best First Year Hack) had one female in their team; and Fridgebook (winner of Best Mobile Hack) had three female hackers and one male hacker in their team.
I only bring it up because they — as well as all the female participants at this year’s event — will hopefully be great ambassadors to attract, engage and inspire future female university students to not only come to UNIHACK, but to hackathons in general.
Overall, both Matthew and I are happy that we have managed to significantly increase the participation of women in just one year.
But we can do better, and we want to do better.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.