The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Event review: She Hacks – Australia’s first female-focused hackathon — March 30, 2014

Event review: She Hacks – Australia’s first female-focused hackathon

She Hacks Melbourne - Yishan Chan Photography
Yishan Chan Photograph

Kat Loughrey recently caught up with She Hacks runner-up Jackie Antig, on her first-time hackathon experience.

If you somehow missed it, Melbourne recently played host to its first ever all female hackathon called She Hacks. Girl Geek Dinners ran the event with the aim of bringing together groups of women across different skill sets to engage in collaborative computer programming. The theme was ‘Communities & Neighbourhoods’ and each group was provided the space, and support via industry mentors, to develop and nurture an app concept in less than 24 hours. As a mentor, I was suitably impressed by the creativity, ideas and sheer determination by the teams to produce a high quality product and prototype within this tight timeframe.

Selling out within a week and with the participant’s donations going to One Girl, the event was definitely a huge success and a big win for local women in tech. It showcased just how many talented women there are locally – and generated positive media coverage in the process.

To ensure success within the teams, each group was required to include three different skill sets: think Hipster (designer), Hacker (programmer) and Hustler (marketing and business – growth hacker). The Fetch Community Ambassador Jackie Antig assumed the hipster role within her team, and shared with me her recommended tips and insights on presenting at a hackathon.

What inspired you to participate in She Hacks?

I’ve been wanting to participate at a hackathon for years, but I didn’t have the courage to before. I am a bit of a shapeshifter across product feature development, communication and design for technology but I only know how to do a couple meagre lines of code (that may change in the future). I had falsely assumed that you had to be a true-bred coder in order to be a successful participant at a hack. She Hacks did a particularly swell job at rolling out the welcome mat for all backgrounds.

Of course, the focus on supporting and promoting women in technology was the biggest draw. One of the roads to closing the gender gap in the sector is skill development. Another road is building up confidence by being challenged and overcoming the challenges in a wicked smart, supportive environment. Girl Geek Dinners Melbourne and She Hacks takes care of both ends.

In making your final pitch, each team only had three mins to present. How did you find this and working with the team, to pull a presentation together with limited time?

In the beginning we were quite ambitious about the amount of information we were going to fold into the pitch. Our early time trials proved we needed to pare down. We prioritised defining the problem statement clearly, our product prototype demo and the storyline about how it addressed the problem statement. We sacrificed the gory details about business forecasting and sustainability but had a feeling that the judges would likely tease those elements out in the question round.

There’s so much you could include but with limited time, what are the top five things you’d recommend that you should make sure to include in your presentation?

Problem, solution, empathy, feedback, and actionable idealism.

Identify a clear-cut problem, design a solution driven by empathy and test your assumptions. Display a sense of actionable idealism; dream up something wild but show you know how to break it up into realistic bite-sized pieces and steps.

I noticed that most groups used slides and visuals. What do you think are “must-haves” in the way of visuals for your presentation?

Minimalism and impact.

She Hacks had an impressive panel of judges (see list here). Knowing who they would be, did that change the way your team decided to present? What do you think the judges were looking for from the teams?

We kept their background separate from our approach. The three minute time limit was the cracking whip against our backs.

I would say they seemed to be evaluating feasibility and real-world application.

Best part of the pitch presentation?

The rush to get up and tell everyone about what we came up with.

Worst part of the pitch presentation?

The nagging feeling we forgot to mention something important.

Would you participate in a hackathon again where you need to present/pitch?

Absolutely! Already searching for the next one.

What advice would you give to others doing a hackathon for the first time and for women considering participating in next year’s She Hacks?

You have the chops!

She Hacks - Wake Up Dress Up team - Yishan Chan Photography
The ‘Wake Up Dress Up’ app team with their runner up awards – Quinnie Chen, Jude Gammie, Jackie Antig. (Image credit: Yishan Chan Photography)

Your team came second, congratulations! So what’s next for your app idea: ‘Wake Up Dress Up‘?

Thank you! We’re trying our best to follow through on actionable idealism. We will be doing a healthy dose of evaluating the morning routine needs of women and the current relationship-building models local fashion designers currently engage in with their customers through a combination of data gathering and ongoing conversation.

We also need a mobile developer on board. Drop a hello our way via Twitter if want to learn more or are interested in pitching in:

SheHacks 2014 Melbourne from Inspire9 on Vimeo.

Thanks to the She Hacks official photographer, Yishan Chan Photography, for the photos. See her full gallery here from the event.

About our Curator // Kat Loughrey is the Melbourne Curator of The Fetch, a community where professionals can discover and share what’s happening in their city. Originally from Brisbane, via Japan, Kat now lives in Melbourne – a digital content strategist by day and explorer of Melbourne’s digital/tech, arts and music scenes by night. Follow her on Twitter at @KatLoughrey & @thefetchMELB

Event Review: Facebook meets London Girl Geek Dinners — November 12, 2012

Event Review: Facebook meets London Girl Geek Dinners

I was dying to see the London Facebook offices for ages and thanks to London Girl Geek Dinners it finally happened. Not only did I get a glimpse of the place but I learned about what it is like to work there as well.

The event was put together by Phillip Su, one of Facebook’s leading software engineers who was also in charge of setting up their headquarters in the UK capital. In an attempt to tap into London’s talent pool as well as bring the platform closer to its users, Su is organising a series of taster events where attendees are given an insight into Facebok’s work culture.

Last week’s London Girl Geek dinner was all about working as a developer for this Internet company whose income rose to $1.26bn between July and September. In no particular order, here are some of the main points that came out:

  • Facebook is a great place to be. There are some smart, friendly people to hang out with, who have their own cafe and gym and a cafeteria filled with healthy food. As a bonus you get to work on a great online product.
  • It all starts with a hackathon. Most of the features we now enjoy on our Facebook walls originated from these intense programming sessions that usually take place within a small team. You come up with an idea, write the code, ship it and see what happens.

* Hackathon products are a mix of user feedback and engineering innovation and about 70% of them actually get delivered in the end.

  • You do get to have a life. There are people who work hard and stay long hours [because they choose to] but there is a lot of flexibility. To quote Su, “it’s what you make of it”.
  • One of Facebook’s objectives in London is to support women in technology, particularly in the 14 to 17 year-old range, when most young people tend to lose interest because of peer pressure, lack of social support and so on.

I’m sold and looking forward to more.

Written by Andreea Magdalina, Community Ambassador in London. Community Manager @enternships/@mixcloud & yogurt addict. Follow her on Twitter @trrpaipai

Take a peek at a Girl Geek Dinners — August 8, 2012

Take a peek at a Girl Geek Dinners

Girl Geek Dinners‘ tagline is ‘Definitely does compute’. Attending one of these events certainly does. Held at coworking space Inspire9, females working in IT congregate monthly to share their passion for the industry, ideas, knowledge and food – ok, mainly pizza.

And the recent meet up was no different. Over 15 women working as web developers, mobile UX designers, social community managers, online managers, bloggers and coders gathered for a 3-hour HTML workshop. Diana Macdonald, Technical Editor from SitePoint, gave an interesting and insightful overview of the main concepts of HTML, explained how to code simple pages and shared the open source resource material of veritable Queen of the Girl Geeks San Francisco-based Pamela Fox.

Learning about the anatomy of a website through to understanding HTML validators was made all the more palatable with the arrival of boxes of pizzas quickly washed down with a glass of wine. The wine was originally intended as prizes for the winners of the W3schools HTML quiz. Oh well… instead, threeof the tech savvy Girl Geeks had a choice of technical books, compliments of SitePoint.

The takeaway message from the night shared by Diana was to ‘keep reading and keep researching. Things change rapidly. What was best practice one year ago in the IT space won’t be best practice today.

Girl Geek Dinners, which started six years ago in Melbourne, is still going strong. The regular Richmond meetup provide a learning environment where professional women are able to come together and skill up on the ever-changing and ever evolving IT sector. The vibe is friendly, enjoyable and relaxed and it caters for women with varying degrees of IT knowledge.

Geek Girl Dinner organisers Tammy Butow and Jessica Lowry not only hold regular IT focused workshops but a hugely popular mentoring series. The Secrets of Success series involves a speaker or three covering a topical technical or business subject over a bite to eat. The format enables senior women with years of industry experience to share their knowledge and offer career guidance and support to those starting out. There are also opportunities to socialise at over Friday night drinks and movie nights, the last one being of course, The Social Network. There is also an invite only Yammer network available allowing for collaboration in-between meetups, as well as Girl Geel blog and Twitter.

So girls, no matter how tech savy you may or may not be, get involved. Get yourself along to a Girl Geek Dinner meetup – coming workshops topics include CSS and WordPress. Have some fun, have some pizza, maybe hold back on cracking opening the wine, but don’t hold back on hollering “HTML, CSS or WordPress” instead of “Cheese” when the group photo is being taken! And guys, good news. Men aren’t excluded. If you have an invitation from a girl attending the event, you are welcome. And this ‘Definitely does compute’ where the focus of the events is about uniting, supporting, learning and having fun in the technology industry.

Contact details:
Twitter: @GGDmelb
Upcoming events:
Yammer: Contact Tammy Butow via

Other networking options for Melbourne women in IT:

Girl Geek Coffees (GGC)
There are a number of GGC’s across Melbourne for females studying in the IT space. Students in Computer Science, Software Engineering, Information Technology, Multimedia, Computer Games and related disciplines (e.g. Science, Engineering, and Mathematics) can meet up over coffee. Supportive males accompanied by a female are also welcome to attend.

The ADACamp Melbourne Initiative
The Ada Initiative is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the participation and status of women in open technology and culture. It includes open source software, Wikipedia and other open data, and open social media.The group is named after Countess Ada Lovelace, widely acknowledged as the world’s first computer programmer and the world’s first woman open source programmer.

Melbourne Robogals
Robogals is a student-run organisation that aims to increase female participation in engineering, science and technology through fun and educational initiatives aimed at girls in primary and secondary school. There is a chapter at Melbourne university.

Women are I.T.
“Women are I.T.” is an organisation providing a framework upon which women in Information Technology can extend their network and expand their knowledge in an environment that encourages open conversation and debate. We want to encourage women to choose I.T. as a career and raise the status of women in Australian business, in the I.T. industry in particular.

Females in IT and Telecommunications
Females in Information Technology and Telecommunications [FITT] is a not-for-profit network established in 1989 that encourages and supports women in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry. FITT holds events and activities throughout the year to support, encourage and inspire women in the Australian ICT industry.

Vic Women in ICT
The Victorian ICT for Women Network is an industry-driven initiative which aims to facilitate entry, retention and progression for women working in ICT.

Go Girl, Go for IT
Go Girl, Go for IT is a free IT career showcase run by the Victorian ICT for Women network for for Secondary School Girls in Years 8-11 to experience the incredible range of vocational avenues that are available in IT.

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Jacqueline Shields. Luckily Jacqueline is not a cat. She’d be on her ninth life. Her inquisitive nature sees her say yes to pretty much anything – a  Tough Mudder, an African Safari, sailing down the Nile in a felucca and even a HTML workshop. And each and everything she tries, she takes great joy in writing about. You can connect with Jacqueline on Twitter @hillrepeats.

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