In higher education as well as the worldwide workforce, women are underrepresented in the STEM fields, particularly in computer science and technology. According to the National Science Foundation, only 25 percent of the workforce in computer and mathematical sciences is composed of women. Although women earned over 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees in 2011, they only earned 18.2 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in computer sciences.
The Global Fund for Women led an International Girls Hackathon in February of this year. The event included over 70 young women coders in five cities around the world in a 24-hour hackathon and was directed at finding inventive solutions to issues facing women worldwide through coding.
A range of inventive solutions were developed. One group in Travandrum, India developed a website to combat the lack of sex education in the country. The website allows for users to chat with counselors, locate health services near them, use discussion toolkits to prepare for talking to family members or others, and read articles about sexual harassment with self-defense tips. Another group in Oakland, California developed wearable sensors and an application to help locate women or girls in dangerous situations. Users have a profile with contact information and settings on safety ranging from green for safe to red if in danger. Users also have a friends list where they can see the status of friends and send messages of support. Each user also has a list of five emergency contacts that are automatically notified if users indicate that they are in trouble.
The winning solution was Não Me Calo, or “I Will Not Shut Up,” from Brazilian women aged 18 to 22. The application, called “Yelp for women’s safety” by the Global Fund for Women, allows women to review and rank venues according to how safe they are for women and girls. It provides a source for women as well as data for business owners and government representatives to monitor different venues.