Cracking the code: all-female hackathon AdaHacks IV

by Thanisha Kapur (’25) and Avi Gupta (’24) | March 31, 2023

Photography by Julia Sochava (’23)

On March 11, Saint Francis’s Girls Who Code (GWC) club hosted AdaHacks, its fourth-ever hackathon, in collaboration with YouTube. AdaHacks, a fourteen-hour hackathon aimed to encourage girls to pursue STEM, provided participants with the opportunity to attend workshops, listen to guest speakers, and earn prizes. Hosting the hackathon at the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno helped provide participants with mentorship and support. As GWC board member Lian Elsa Linton (’24) described, the YouTube campus offered a “professional setup” including a large auditorium space, expansive café, and the “iconic YouTube sign.” 

The day began with breakfast, a team mixer, and an opening ceremony, intended to introduce participants to AdaHacks’ mission, as well as the day’s theme. The hacking began soon after, with each team assigned to a division of their choice “Diversity and Inclusion” or “Art and Design.” There were around fourteen teams per division with more than seventy-five participants at the event.

The day’s hacking offered participants opportunities to win free swag by participating in a Kahoot about influential women in STEM and attending a Women-in-Tech Panel, featuring women from a variety of technical backgrounds currently working at YouTube and Google. The panel discussed navigating “imposter syndrome”—a feeling that one is a fraud or not worthy of their accomplishments—in the world of tech and offered practical advice for pursuing a STEM-related field.

In the evening, each team presented their project and a video demonstrating their project’s functionality. In the “Art and Design” division, students created projects ranging from an art editor that produces harmonious color schemes to a music editor that generates sound files with music notes. In the “Diversity and Inclusion” division, Divya Moorthy (’24) created a website for women struggling with the impacts of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, implementing features such as a clinic locator and a fact generator about obstacles women face in the medical field. Also developing projects for the “Diversity and Inclusion” field, Devyn Ponnuvelu (’25) and Thanisha Kapur (’25) both tied for second place in their respective projects for the closeted LGBTQ+ community and those with mental and physical disabilities.

Safaa Hussain (’23), AdaHacks executive director, noted that even though AdaHacks is a competition, “at the end of the day it is about uplifting each other” and learning to work together as a team. Mrs. Joanna Vollucci, Design Department Chair and GWC moderator, noted inclusion, particularly of genderqueer and transgender students, as a key goal for AdaHacks. In pursuit of inclusivity, she also highlighted that the GWC team continues to seek “allies to support the event, who can spread the message about the importance of such events.”

Categories: News

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