Rackspace Support of Women in Technology Continues


Rackspace Support of Women in Technology Continues

Fueled by coffee and tacos, roughly 100 women (and a few men too) coded around the clock during the Women Who Code Diversity Hackathon in October, sponsored in part by Rackspace.

I served as one of the four judges, continuing Rackspace’s support for women in technology. Rackspace sponsors these types of technical events for women because we are passionate about supporting diversity and inclusion, and we believe in building solid technical communities.

As part of that support, Rackspace sponsored its first-ever external hackathon for the Austin chapter of Women Who Code last summer. Prior to the event, members attended a six month course at the Rackspace Austin office to “Learn Python the Hard Way,” by Zed Shaw. Then, to help them put their newly acquired skills to the test, the Austin Tech Crew, led by SME Advisory Recruiter Carla Crull, partnered with Women Who Code to host a Python game-a-thon. More than 35 women came together in teams to create terminal games.

The Austin Tech Crew is a group of Rackers who foster the continuation of technical skills for Rackers as well as within Austin’s larger tech community. Crull says the team is driven by a desire to help others learn and grow their careers through building and sponsoring technical events like “Learn Python the Hard Way."

“Being a leader of the tech crew for three years, I’ve had the opportunity to really breath in Rackspace technology, and that's given me ability to support and enable women who desire to learn and start their careers in technology,” Crull told me. “Creating women tech training programs (like Python), professional career workshops and sponsoring diversity events is an incredible way to us to give back to our community.”

This year’s Women Who Code Diversity Hackathon took place at Austin’s Capitol Factory. Many participants were new coders who had only recently finished coding classes or boot camps. Others were self-taught. Most had never developed a full stack technical application, UI to the backend, before.

Women (and a few men) working during the Women Who Code hackathon in October.

That meant many would-be hackers learned new technologies and skills on the fly. Within hours they’d learned Python, React, displaying foreign keys, NoSQL, MongoDB, Java frameworks, integration with external data sources, APIs and more. Throughout the hackathon, they also learned pair programming, time management and how to work with diverse teams.

Judging the competition allowed me to watch the participants work up close. They were encouraging and eager to help each other solve problems, despite the fact that it was a competition. The teams quickly assessed the strengths of each member and leveraged those strengths to create unique applications with real, immediate value.

At the end of the two-day event, the judges evaluated the final submissions based on four categories, “UI/UX,” “Socially Impactful,” “Technical Stack” and “Deep Learning, Overcoming Obstacles”

I presented one of the four awards to the 3 Lil Pigs team for their work creating an innovative application designed to help parents teach children how to make smart financial choices and save money.

As a woman in tech, I value the creativity, unique perspective and contributions of women on technical teams. The most successful teams and projects I have worked on have also been the most diverse. I’m passionate about sharing how a career in technology can provide flexibility, autonomy and financial stability for women of all ages.