January 29, 2018
About a month ago, I was introduced to an inspiring and empowering annual event called Hack the Gap. Founded in April of 2015 by Jenna Pederson and Kristen Womack, Hack the Gap is a weekend of collaboration among women in the programming, development, interactive and design communities here in Minneapolis. Their mission is to amplify the voices and cultivate the talents of underserved people in the industry. Beyond just closing the gender gap, the program also focuses on breaking down barriers where privilege exists by providing a space where women can come together to build, connect, inspire and be inspired by each other.
The two-day hackathon begins with pitches that are technological ideas that range from solution-based with a serious tone to fun and whimsical creations. Each participant chooses what idea they are most drawn to and from there, teams of two to six are formed around the ideas. The teams then have until 10 p.m. to work on their project together and have the following morning to put the finishing touches on their presentation. That afternoon, the doors open to the public and each project is presented to and judged by a panel of experts. The projects are judged by the innovation of the idea and problem solution; the technical impressiveness; and the impact of the idea on community, the market or the end users. The first-, second-, and third-place teams take home $1,500, $1,000, and $500, respectively, and all teams retain full ownership of what they created during the hackathon. Hack the Gap claims no rights to any of the ideas.
Fast Horse was one of the many sponsors of the event this year, so my colleague Rebecca and I attended the public demonstrations as representatives since we fall into the interactive and design disciplines. It was a fun afternoon of watching impressive demos that revolved around some really innovative ideas. The projects ranged from menstrual cycle/diet health tracking to a Tinder-like app for finding a rescue pet to a statistic-based organizational system of books you’ve read.
While the program is primarily for programmers, each team needs idea people, designers, data analysts, and testers – so after attending my first year as an observer, I’m excited to be involved next year as a participant.