A little less than two years ago, I was at my first ever hack event; Hack24. As a designer rather than a developer, I was a little uncertain about whether I had a place there but thought it sounded interesting so I’d give it a try. To my team’s utter surprise, we won the Broadway challenge and thus became the ‘Superteam’.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was another woman there who I would go on to co-organise Women in Tech Nottingham with. Jess (who is awesome!) tells me that she had been coding for only a couple of months before her first Hack24 so, it seems, we were both finding our feet in the world of tech. And who better to help us with that than Emma and Andrew, directors and organisers of Tech Nottingham and Hack24. The second I walked into the registration area of that first Hack24 event, I was met with a huge, welcoming smile from Emma, who is sunshine personified, and felt that she was someone I needed in my life immediately.
In that first Hack24, the majority of the hackers were male. Aside from Jess and myself, there were seven other female hackers out of around 130 (if Andrew has given me the correct numbers). Even though the number of female hackers was low, my team and hacker Kate both co-won the Broadway challenge, which felt pretty darn good.
Fast forward to Hack24, 2017 and we have our first ever WiT Notts all-female teams. So how did we get on, I hear you ask? Well… we rocked it! Our team, Totally Triumphant Bodacious Babes (yes, we use Bill and Ted references a lot at WiT Notts) came runner up in Cronofy’s Let’s Rendezvous challenge. The prize was a model Delorean, which fits in nicely with our love of 80s/90s movies. Team Hey Pesto won TWO challenges: Esendex’s Connect with Gen Z without inducing zzzzzz… and Packed Pixel’s Best Hardware Hack. In addition to the two WiT Notts teams, two of our regular attendees were part of a team who won UNiDAYS’ Implement a song title challenge.
Most of the WiT Notts folks were first-time hackers at Hack24 so to win so many prizes was joyous. I’m looking forward to seeing even more women at Hack24, 2018 being brilliant and winning challenges!
I cannot begin to describe how proud I am to have worked alongside such an amazing group of ladies. Our motto at WiT Notts is ‘Be excellent to each other’. Although this is a most outstanding movie reference, it is not glib. Being excellent to each other is about collaboration and communication. We spent the weekend encouraging, supporting and entertaining each other.
After the event our teammate Laura said “I had an amazing time, there was a very supportive and friendly atmosphere all around the Hack24 event and having taken part gave me the motivation of going back to a few things that I’ve put on hold for a while. I’d go back to last Saturday… if only I had a time machine😉”
In the WiT Notts teams, everyone had their own skill-set but when these came together, we really did become more than the sum of our parts. And that’s why WiT Notts exists for now. To get women, and men, together to build a community, encourage more female speakers and to get more women at tech events such as Hack24. Jess and I always introduce our event by saying that the ultimate goal is for us to become redundant. Our work is done once there is more female representation and participation in the industry. But until that day, we’ll keep being excellent to each other and party on.