The second TechLady Hackathon was tremendous

by Shannon Turner
28 Jul 2014

On Saturday morning, over 150 women came together for the second Tech Lady Hackathon and training day organized by Leah Bannon. All day, DC-area women in tech were learning, doing, and learning by doing, in a supportive, women-only environment.

The morning kicked off with announcements from project organizers recruiting others to join their teams and work together throughout the day.

Gender Checker led by Mel Kramer and Sara Carothers, which analyzes news articles to determine the gender ratio of who's being quoted.

Buscando led by Aliya Rahman and several Code for Progress fellows, connecting individuals and families to resources and organizations that are helping undocumented and unaccompanied minors get food, clothing, education, and medical care.

A common misconception is that only developers can contribute to projects like these, but each of the projects at the Tech Lady Hackathon were created by people at all levels of experience contributing a wide variety of skills.

Several women led skillshares, a hands-on way to learn by doing.

Mara Pellittieri and Christina Sanabria showed how to use Google Fusion Tables to make interactive maps.

..and Elizabeth Byerly gave a tutorial on using the statistical software R to crunch data.

Throughout the day there were several 75-minute workshops where attendees could dig deep into a topic and ask great questions.

Leah Bannon led an intro to open-source collaboration using Github.

Shannon Turner gave a practical introduction to coding for beginners.

Sonia Hinson showed everyone the basics of using HTML and CSS to create and style webpages.

Shannon Turner led an intermediate-level introduction to using the web framework Django to create full-featured websites.

Anthea Watson Strong gave a crash course in keeping your projects on track and on time using effective project management techniques.

Rachel Shorey guided attendees through SQL and how to use it for managing databases.

The day was structured like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, where women were free to attend workshops and skillshares, work on projects, and meet other inspiring tech ladies without feeling "locked in" to any choice throughout the day.

One room was set aside for drop-in mentoring sessions, where women sought out one another's advice on topics ranging from how to land a tech job to how to get started on personal projects.

The day wrapped up with a panel discussion led by Lean In DC, Catherine Colwell, Shana Glenzer, Vivian Graubard, and Anthea Watson Strong discussed their experiences being in the field. Lisa Bonos served as moderator.

My favorite part about the event is the community that's formed since the first one in December. Collectively we have a tremendous amount of talent and expertise, and it's been incredible to learn so much from everyone else in the community.

Special thanks to Google for hosting in their beautiful DC office and providing food and space;

Mapbox for hosting the pre-party (all genders welcome) on Friday night;
DC FemTech (a collective of dozens of DC-area women in tech groups) for promoting the event;
..and all of the volunteers, leaders, and attendees who gave their time and expertise to make this event successful.

We ran out of all 250 tickets to the hackathon and training within one day. Make sure you're the first to know about the next one by signing up for Leah's Tech Lady Newsletter.

Shannon Turner is a software developer and founder of Hear Me Code, free beginner-friendly coding classes for women. She tweets at @svt827