Hackathons, the one- to three-day programming marathons where coders convene to create innovative web applications, tend to resemble 2 a.m. cram sessions at college dorms. Picture a group of hyper-focused twentysomething men craned over Macs, surrounded by empty 12 oz. cans of Red Bull, eventually passing out for a few hours on the floor. Women are not always eager to participate.

The founders of Girl Develop It, a female-centric hacker non-profit, in league with the entrepreneurship startup Jump Thru, understand this. And so, this past weekend, they staged the inaugural Hamptons Hackathon for Humanity. The event -- billed as an "anti-hackathon," and aimed to show that computer programming can be an equally female-friendly endeavor -- brought 16 female technologists, web developers, and venture capitalists together in a luxurious cedar-shingled mansion. There was a masseuse and a pool. The food was good. Sleeping took place in beds.

Despite -- or perhaps motivated by -- the lush surroundings, the group worked tirelessly to produce an interactive game aimed at preventing human trafficking in New York City called Commuting In Traffic. This slideshow captures one day of their work.

Photos by Rebecca Greenfield, follow her on Twitter @rebeccausername

Follow the author of this post on Twitter @jedlipinski

Deborah Jackson, an angel investor and CEO of JumpThru, an entrepreneurship startup, has worked with Girl Develop It in the past. So when she booked a 5,000-square-foot house in Southampton for her family in July (price tag: $40,000), she offered it to the group for the weekend, giving rise to the town’s first female hackathon.
Participants arrived on Friday evening, and after agreeing to build an interactive game they split into five groups. By Saturday morning, Christina Lutters (right), a front-end developer, and Pamela Castillo, a cofounder of Market Publique, were already designing wire frames for the site.
The attendees hailed from a variety of professional backgrounds, which enabled them to share their expertise and even teach one another some new technical skills.
In an effort to repair the gender imbalance in the tech community, Sara Chipps, a cofounder of Girl Develop It, teaches women how to create their own visions on the web. In the Hamptons, she taught everyone how to access GitHub, a software program that allows developers to collaborate with one another.
Izzy Johnston, a 25-year-old independent software developer, said that she is always in the minority at hackathons, and commonly forced to subsist off Mountain Dew and Cheetos. She appreciated “the total lack of ego” among the women at the Hamptons Hackathon.
Ms. Johnston is also pursuing a graduate degree in Library Science at Pratt University. In aggressive contrast to the bun and cat’s eye glasses stereotype, this future librarian is covered in tattoos, among them a semi-colon and a tree without leaves -- a “symbol of perpetual regeneration,” she said.
Those with experience in marketing and business strategy brainstormed to create the narrative arc of the game. Kristen Dolle, a copywriter and CEO of Pink Brick House, a boutique web agency, helped the group hone their message.
A masseuse -- Adele Greene, from Brooklyn -- arrived at around 3 p.m. on Saturday. Some of the ladies were so immersed in their respective tasks that they were reluctant to get into the chair.
As the sun set, however, some took a break to chat and decompress in the pool. Here Jamie Lee, a business operations manager for JumpThru, catches some well-earned rays.
Silicon Valley Bank and Gunderson Dettmer, a New York City law firm, sponsored a series of gourmet meals for the hackers. As bottles of Chardonnay chilled in the garage refrigerator, guests were treated to Mexican corn salad, grass-fed steak, and striped bass filleted on an outdoor grill.
Computer programming and designing can be solitary, even alienating work, and the participants in the Hamptons Hackathon reveled in the personal interaction the weekend afforded. After an 18-hour day, some participants took a break for a session of Kittenwar.
The women worked until 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, occasionally adjourning to the deck. Some insisted that they had signed up simply for the chance to work collaboratively on a project related to human rights. But the fact that other women -- and the Hamptons -- were involved made the event extra enticing.

Six loads of towels and one game about human trafficking later, the female hackers went home.

Inside The All-Female Hamptons Hackathon For Humanity

This past weekend, Girl Develop It staged the inaugural Hamptons Hackathon for Humanity. The event — billed as an "anti-hackathon," and aimed to show that computer programming can be an equally female-friendly endeavor — brought 16 female technologists, web developers, and venture capitalists together in a luxurious cedar-shingled mansion.

Add New Comment

0 Comments