Female-only teams came up with technological solutions to solve social and environmental problems. herHack turned out a great success.

If you think software development is exclusively a male domain, you’re wrong! Last week, Switzerland saw its largest female Hackathon with over 200 participants from Switzerland and neighboring countries, including Liechtenstein. “herHack” spanned over 36 hours, during which the women worked in teams to solve social problems that contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN Agenda 2030.

A milestone

The event was part of Digitaltag Switzerland, a series of workshops and events to familiarize people with digital technology. herHack pursued the goal of encouraging women to consider careers in the technology industry. It was organized by digitalswitzerland and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cognizant, and other sponsors.

There was big demand. Within just three weeks, all seats for herHack were fully booked. Women of different ages and educational levels could participate with no specific prior knowledge of programming.

“With the Hackathon we have set a milestone,” says Thomas Gassenbauer, Country Manager of Cognizant. “A hackathon is a creative, collaboration-focused place where different backgrounds come together to develop ideas, improve programming skills and expand the possibilities of technology. While most hackathons are primarily attended by men, herHack is committed to increasing gender diversity.”

Programming for social good

There were seven different tasks that participants could take on. They worked in interdisciplinary teams to develop ideas on how digital solutions can address key social challenges, defined by the global goals for sustainable development of the UN Agenda 2030 (SDGs).  The SDGs take equal account of the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The Hackathon aims to address some of these challenges.

“We are thrilled about the great success of the first Female Hackathon in Switzerland,” says Yvonne Bettkober, Country Leader for AWS Switzerland. “It was great to see with what passion, curiosity, and creativity the different teams worked on solutions. Congratulations to all the female participants! It is especially important that we continue to encourage and support female talent, including with initiatives like these, to pursue a career in the tech industry. Diversity and different skills in teams offer companies enormous potential – they are more innovative, more productive, and more successful.”

Winner Team Iconics

The first place went to Team Iconics. They convinced the jury with a digital solution for sustainable and healthy nutrition. The app “ComplEAT” measures how much one’s diet contributes to daily CO2 emissions. The app should make it possible for users to eat sustainably and meat-free without sacrificing important nutrients. Users record their daily food intake and receive information about their carbon footprint, nutrient content, and what they can eat regionally and seasonally to replenish their nutrient stores.

Other solutions aimed at reducing water consumption or other climate or sustainability relevant goals. It was a great opportunity for women to learn about technology and for companies to network with talent and draw inspiration from the solutions the event participants came up with.

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