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Buffalo Chapter of Girl Develop It announces all-women hackathon


Mon, Oct 24th 2016 01:55 pm

Expanded 'GDI Hacks' powered by AT&T to benefit more local women and minority-owned businesses and nonprofits this year

The Buffalo Chapter of Girl Develop It (GDI Buffalo) will once again host the region's only all-women hackathon, "GDI Hacks powered by AT&T," and has expanded it based on the popularity of last year's event.

"GDI Hacks," which will take place from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at the DIG Innovation Center, will be the second all-women hackathon in the region's history. It will expand the number of female participants to 70, and double the number of businesses and nonprofits that can take part to 10.

During the hackathon, teams of web developers, innovators, technologists, designers and marketing experts will be challenged to provide several area women and minority-owned businesses or nonprofits with new or updated websites that they otherwise could not afford or have the expertise to do on their own.

Last year, five local companies participated in the inaugural "GDI Hacks" and received a new or enhanced website. All credited the event and the female participants for improving business.

The daylong hackathon is a collaborative programming competition in which developers will be split into teams that will face off to deliver the best website in a 12-hour period. Each team will work on one of the local women and minority-owned business' websites to improve online presence. Teams will meet with the business or nonprofit they're assigned to, and learn about its digital needs, business and overall identity. Participants will then present their ideas to a panel of judges, and prizes will be awarded for the most innovative and useful websites.

"At Girl Develop It, we know that an outstanding web presence can have a great impact to a business. It is important to us that our hackathon not only help our members hone their skills, but also help local nonprofits or small businesses succeed. It's a win-win," said Lena Levine, founder of Girl Develop It Buffalo.

The all-women hackathon will be run as a partnership with the Innovation Center.

"As the largest business incubator in Buffalo, the Innovation Center focuses on bringing together entrepreneurs and service providers for idea sharing and collaboration that leads to new business creation and growth," said Vic Nole, director of business development at Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc. "Hosting Girl Develop It's all-women hackathon is a natural fit for us. We are proud to support the development of local small and nonprofit businesses."

All-female hackathons have become popular in recent years, mainly because they provide something very few tech companies and innovation challenges can: A place where women can hone their coding, innovation, and design skills with other women. They also offer an environment more inviting to women, as co-ed hackathons are still male-dominated and can discourage females from participating.

ATT said all-female hackathons are important to women tech professionals, especially in the app and web development field, because they provides women an opportunity that is still too rare: To join a peer group and share their interest in technology and innovation, while networking and sharing common challenges in the underrepresented female tech sector.

"AT&T is committed to bridging the significant gender gap in the technology sector and collaborating with organizations that provide women with opportunities, skills and confidence necessary to become future technology leaders," said Marissa Shorenstein, New York state president, AT&T. "That's why we are so proud to again support Girl Develop It, Buffalo's all-woman hackathon, which provides Western New York's female population with a unique opportunity to showcase their innovation and technology skills, and help women and minority-owned businesses enhance their digital identity."

"GDI Hacks" is open to women developers of all skills and levels of expertise to promote peer-supported growth. GDI Buffalo is now looking for businesses, sponsors, volunteers and hackathon participants. To sign up for the hackathon, or for more information, visit www.gdihacks.com.

Girl Develop It is a nonprofit organization that exists to provide affordable and accessible programs to women who want to learn web and software development through mentorship and hands-on instruction.

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