Upcoming hackathon empowers and encourages women in computer science

The second annual International Women’s Hackathon, which begins Friday and runs through April 27, provides an environment to explore computing and is designed to encourage university women worldwide to become technological innovators and help solve global-scale problems.

The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2018, 1.4 million U.S. technology jobs will be unfilled. A study has shown that 57 percent of women earn undergraduate degrees, but only 18 percent of them graduate with a computer-science degree.

For Rane Johnson-Stempson, principal research director in the Education and Scholarly Communication group with Microsoft Research Connections and co-organizer of the hackathon, the frustrating numbers of women studying computer science represent an opportunity.

“We know that we are losing women in computer science because they don’t see it as a field in which they can make an impact,” Johnson-Stempson says. “This is why we partner with nonprofits that make a significant societal impact. We want to show young women that if they stay in computer science, they can change the world and make a difference.”

The event features a pair of challenges: to increase women’s involvement in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and to encourage people to stop texting while driving.

The hackathon also is being staged at university campuses around the world, connected by Lync. Fifty universities in 11 countries will be holding events, expected to attract 2,500 university-level women.

Read more about the hackathon and its goals on Inside Microsoft Research.

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Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff