Black Girls Code Project Humanity Hackathon

Black Girls Code Project Humanity Hackathon

In 3 Days, Young Girls Built Apps for Social Justice

Yesterday, the inspiring story of Black Girls Code aired on NPR. If you don’t know who Black Girls Code are and why they are so important; listen up, these young women have something important to say! Recently, Lawdan and I were lucky enough to attend Black Girls Code Project Humanity Hackathon to help judge pitches. All the girls in attendance were 12-17 years old and spent 3 days concepting, planning and wireframing apps for social justice. The apps that emerged were primarily focused on bullying, stereotypes, and environmental issues, speaking volumes to the issues that this generation is facing.

The girls were all so thoughtful in their app designs and well-rehearsed in their pitches, making it really difficult to rank teams–but one team truly stood out. This winning team created an app called “Mana” that lets students study together outside of the classroom. Students using the app can get notes and homework after being absent, as well as access other study tools like flashcards. Their hard work earned them a $2,000 prize and the admiration of 16 other teams of app designers.

black girls code hackathon winners
The winning team that created Mana

We admire organizations like Black Girls Code, which started out in San Francisco in 2011 and has since expanded across the country. BGC hosts summer camps, after-school programs, and workshops focused on teaching basic computer programming and coding skills to middle school and high school girls.

14-year-old N’Dea Jackson was part of the winning team and said,

“I love how [with coding] you can build whatever you want, and there are no limitations because you have all the controls. I’m fascinated by how apps work and by learning how to make them function properly.”
N'Dea Jackson
n'dea jackson
N’Dea Jackson and team

We met BGC Founder and Executive Director, Kimberly Bryant, earlier this year at the Girls in Tech Catalyst Conference in Phoenix where we first launched the #ItWasNeverADress campaign. One thing Kimberly said that really resonated with me is, “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” I look around and don’t see a lot of women in tech,  let alone women of color.

As of 2013, only 26% of the computing workforce is women, and of those only 3% are African-American, 5% are Asian, and 2% are Hispanic. We will continue to use our #ItWasNeverADress campaign to partner with organizations like BGC to help close this gap.

black girls code hackathon judges
The Judges at BGC Hackathon
“Learning to code [with other girls] teaches you about being able to stand up for yourself. And it helps teach you that you’re just as good as everyone else. Right now, [this field] is mostly monopolized by boys, and we really need to get our foot in the door. Because we all have really good ideas.”
N'dea Jackson

It’s girls like N’Dea who inspire us to keep the #ItWasNeverADress campaign moving forward!

Winners of the #ItWasNeverADress Award

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