Technica Understands Women in Tech

Technica, the current largest all women and nonbinary hackathon in the world kicked off its fifth year at the University of Maryland on Nov. 9. 

Technica is a 24-hour hackathon where participants are encouraged to work in teams to build new projects using code. What makes it unique from other “hackathons” is their emphasis on empowering women, a group that can often be pushed aside in the tech industry. 

“We take extra precautions to really make sure everyone feels included, empowered, and motivated to go further into technology,” said Utsa Santhosh a sophomore computer science major at the University of Maryland and the director of finance for Technica.

 

Photo courtesy of Utsa Santhosh.

This year Technica gave out pronoun pins to make gender identity clear to all participants. Promoting diversity and inclusion is a key part of the hackathon and it’s shown in the details, such as having a prayer room and a gender-inclusive bathroom at the event.

The event reached record high numbers with over 900 participants and 166 total projects submitted according to Santhosh.

Sanjana Neerumalla a senior finance major attended Technica for the second time because the resources provided go beyond only computer science majors. Her hope for next year is to participate as a volunteer to become more involved with the event. 

“I think the challenging environment and motivated students stimulate my own curiosity and interest in computer science and I would want to be involved in any way that would help,” said Neerumalla.

 

Photo courtesy of Utsa Santhosh.

Hacking isn’t the only thing to do at Technica, meaning coding experience isn’t a requirement. For many, it's a chance to try out tech, and learn more about possible career opportunities in the field.

Participants are given the chance to talk to companies, listen to keynotes and panels, attend workshops, and of course, create projects to ultimately be submitted and judged. 

Rachel Bejo, a sophomore at Northwest High School was encouraged to go to Technica by the computer science teachers at her school who emphasized the fact that the event would be a good experience to have, regardless of coding knowledge. 

“I’m relatively newer to coding so I’ve been going to workshops to learn about different kinds of technology, opportunities in computer science, and intros to different styles of coding,” said Bejo.

Keynote speakers for this year included Liz Wessel the CEO of WayUp, a website, and app that connects college students and recent graduates with employers, and supermodel Karlie Kloss, founder of Kode with Klossy, a free coding camp for girls ages 13-18. 

“The thing that differentiates Technica is that it’s more than just a hackathon because it has a social mission of diversifying technology,” said Santhosh.