Without a doubt, Hack24 has become one of the tech event highlights of my year; its only competition being the epic Tech Nottingham Christmas parties at the NVA. This year, my fourth year, was no exception. It was, however, different as I stepped away from being an attendee and donned a red volunteer hoodie.
As an organiser of Women in Tech Nottingham (WiT Notts), I was very pleased to find out that, once again, we were given the opportunity to enter two teams of attendees into Hack24 2018. As tempted as I was to take a seat at the hacking table, I wanted to be able to talk to other volunteers and attendees about WiT without feeling like I was abandoning my team. I was there, though, to support them in their hacks.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the WiT teams, Knit-Wits and WiT Happens, worked amazingly well together. This year we had a great mix of UX, front-end, back-end, full-stack, and ops – across a range of ages. Some members of the teams knew each other before the event, some knew each other vaguely from WiT Notts, but both teams didn’t know each other properly until ten days before the event. It didn’t show.
The level of teamwork, friendship, support and laughter coming from the WiT team tables was wonderful to see and it was so much fun hanging out with them. Often during a WiT Notts event I have to keep one eye on the time, food, social media, or looking after speakers, so I don’t get to spend as much time talking to our attendees as I would like. Spending time with these lovely ladies was a great treat.
I’m delighted that our WiT teams did so well. Not only were they the poster-child for teamwork, but one of our teams, the Knit-WiTs, won two of the challenges: The Thomson Reuters Do Good with Data and the MHR Easter Egg Hunt. Seeing a team of women who didn’t know each other well, creating an entry that solved a real issue for women made me extremely proud.
The Knit-Wits entry was an app that people could use report misogyny. Nottinghamshire police were the first in the country to enable misogyny to be reported as a hate crime, but the process is not made easy for victims. You be Brave, is an app designed to report harassment and abuse and capture the data. Check out the team’s entry video to see how the app works.
With only 1 in 4 women working in tech, having our attendees do so well in front of an audience of 200ish people, was absolutely fantastic. They are all superstars.
I’m grateful and humbled to be involved in heading up WiT in Nottingham. It’s a role I fell into rather than designed and it’s because I felt the need to be involved in giving female and gender minority speakers and attendees more prominence in the industry. There’s a long way still to go, but being represented at notable events like Hack24 is a really great thing.
In addition to the outstanding work of the WiT teams, the thing that makes me most proud to be a part of Hack24 is the collaboration and teamwork that it inspires in everyone. Andrew introduced the event with “There’s no such thing as an outsider at Hack24” and it’s true. I couldn’t wish for a more inclusive event.
Having hung around the Nottingham tech scene for a few years, and being an organiser of WiT, year-on-year I get to know more Hack24 attendees. (I literally knew two people in year one.) Volunteering was an opportunity to spend time with good friends and make new ones. The volunteers were all such lovely folk. I knew some vaguely, but spending hours with them has cemented them from wave across the room, to a full-on catch up the next time I see them.
If you’ve been to Hack24, you’ll know that it’s a rollercoaster of emotions. There’s palpable excitement, frustration when things go wrong (spoiler: things in hacks always go wrong), tiredness, late night ‘we’re all going a bit delirious’ silliness and more. It was fantastic to be a part of this.
All of this fun, friendship and collaboration would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of Andrew and Emma. They are the most selfless people I know and their input into the tech community in Nottingham has touched so many lives.
Meeting them has had a profound impact on me. Through attending Hack24 in 2015 and starting to go to Tech Nottingham I have made an amazing group of life-long friends; learned how to be a speaker; landed a dream job; gained confidence; and ended up as an advocate for women in tech. My life is richer for knowing them and I will be forever grateful to them for being the incredible positive influencers they are.
If you’re not involved in the tech scene in Nottingham, then I urge you to get involved. There really is an event for everyone, find yours at nottingham.digital.