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Did NASA figure out how to make hackathons more women-friendly?

At last year’s NASA’s Space Apps Challenge, one of the largest hackathons in the world, 14,264 participants collaborated in 133 locations to churn out stellar apps. Unfortunately, most of the contributors were men. “The attendance is generally 80 percent male,” said Beth Beck, the event’s organizer and NASA’s open innovation project manager. “It’s more everyman than everywoman.” The gravity of this skewed gender ratio weighed on her — she spent months making astute observations at NASA events, scrutinizing studies about women in science, and chatting with other scientific organizations to produce concrete solutions.

So how can we get the number of women who sign up for hackathons to rocket? Well, you planet accordingly. Beck discovered that women who are interested in hackathons want to ensure that the events will be safe, encouraging spaces. Women also embrace opportunities to prep for hackathons, like bootcamps. Providing childcare support has been proven to boost the number of female attendees as well. And if all this talk about hackathons makes you want to sign up for one yourself, you’re in luck! The next Space Apps Challenge launches this upcoming weekend.

Read the full story at Fast Company.


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