PixelHacks II: 120 Girls “Hack” for 24 Hours
It’s 12 a.m., families are sleeping, clocks are striking midnight, Medallia’s San Mateo Headquarters campus is still. But for the girls’ whose faces are lit by computer screens in the cafeteria, the day is just beginning.
On January 27, 2018, Catherine Yeo, 16, organized her second Hackathon, PixelHacks II, a 24-hour event where female programmers gathered to “hack,” or create a hardware and software project. At the end of the hacking period, girls demo-ed their projects to judges and won awards in different categories based on their websites, mobile applications, presentation skills and domain names.
Pitching is Monica Bellare’s, a senior at Basis Independent Silicon Valley, favorite part as a hacker. “It encompasses the entrepreneurial aspect of hackathons, encouraging the idea that software developments go hand-in-hand with business and pitching,” the PixelHacks II organizer said.
After the success of last years event, with 70 girls, Yeo knew she needed to bring PixelHacks back. “Being able to observe the tangible impact of our work with PixelHacks on so many girls and seeing their newfound interest in programming grow fueled my passion and desire to continue PixelHacks’ mission to inspire young girls and incite their interest in technology,” she said. “Watching the girls’ eyes light up never ceased to be rewarding for me and I decided to (host) PixelHacks again on a much larger scale.”
This year’s event, held at Medallia, a Customer Experience and Enterprise Feedback Management company, housed 120 high school girls from across California and 30 female mentors from tech companies like Google, GoDaddy, and Microsoft.
“I met Medallia’s recently formed Women in Tech Team members at the She++ Gala in April of last year and was inspired by the company’s goals and missions,” said Yeo, a Stanford Online School Senior. “They were excited about possibly hosting an event like PixelHacks that aimed to help bridge the gender gap in tech, especially at a young level.”
PixelHacks is also commited to outreach, especially in underepresented and at risk communites. One of their biggest partners was nonprofit Teens Transforming Technology.
Besides being a focused environment for the girls to code, PixelHacks II was also a place for programmers of all experience levels to network and learn from industry mentors and peers.
“To sit among such prominent women in the technology field and interview them about their journey to the top was a wonderful experience.” Returning PixelHacks organizer and Valley Christian High School Junior Sandhya Bellary said. “You could see the girl’s faces light up as they listened to the women’s stories and related to the struggles these women faced.”
The event was also filled with fun activities like cup stacking, app development workshops, virtual reality, and Silicon Valley’s favorite drink: Boba, a comrade to pulling an all nighter.
“It was really eye-opening to see how 120 girls were able to contribute to creating amazing applications and projects,” Director of Sponsorship and Cupertino High School Junior Tanupa Thaker said. “I feel that this is the first step to increasing women in tech for the future generations.”