Come February 19, women from across the region will put their coding capabilities to test at a 48-hour hackathon at Astrolabs in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai to develop apps for smart cities.
The Women in STEM Hackathon, organised by the Meera Kaul Foundation, offers women opportunities to turn their ideas into innovative sustainable businesses. At the event, they get to meet like-minded peers, angel investors and support organisations.
“By investing in this hackathon, we aim to provide a platform to encourage more women to opt for STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] careers,” says Meera Kaul, Global Chair and Founder of the Meera Kaul Foundation. “We look forward to uniting inspiring talent from all over the region under one roof, learning from their collective pool of experiences and creating something useful in the bargain.”
What’s this hackathon about?
The whole premise of hackathons is innovation – inventing a simple, smart, efficient and unique way to solve an existing problem, by creatively using technology. This year’s Women in STEM Hackathon is supported by Astrolabs, a co-working space for digital technology start-ups, providing a collaborative platform for growth and success, and Arab Women in Computing.
“We are excited to be a part of the hackathon,” says Ahmad Abugosh, Learning and Development Manager at AstroLabs Dubai. “Together we need to highlight more female role models, female entrepreneurs and women in executive positions. People need to hear success stories and achievements by women in tech to believe that we can do it and we can do it right.”
“The region compared to other parts of the world has more women in tech start-ups participating as a percentage based on the programmes we’ve seen, even in comparison to Silicon Valley. In this scenario, our main endeavour, being the only Google Partnered Tech Hub in Mena, is to provide a vibrant space for like-minded tech enthusiasts and a community network of support through our mentorship programme. And this is where we feel our synergy lies with the Foundation’s Women in STEM objectives.”
While the number of undergraduate women pursuing some STEM subjects like biology and chemistry has steadily increased, their participation in computer science has been declining.
“Despite resources devoted to encouraging women to enter computer-related fields, college-level computer science education continues to be an isolating, and at times, demoralising experience for many of the country’s top female students,” says Meera. “But this is slowly changing and hackathons provide the perfect platform and environment to enable this change. Considering how they are fast emerging as a fascinating nerve-centre of state-of-the-art, hi-tech ideas and technology, they are helping further persuade women to join technology domains by offering them a synergic platform for ideation and coding.”
Registrations for the hackathon are now open. Winners will receive incubation support as well as mentorship opportunities facilitated by the Meera Kaul Foundation, along with other exciting prizes.