FemmeHacks Offers Inclusive Computer Science and Tech Experience

A guest post by organizers of 2021 FemmeHacks. The Mack Institute was a sponsor of the event.

FemmeHacks 2021 virtual opening ceremony

We held our seventh annual and first-ever virtual FemmeHacks February 5–6 this year. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, we are proud to have hosted another successful iteration!

FemmeHacks is Philadelphia’s first all-women collegiate hackathon, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Women in Computer Science (WiCS) chapter. FemmeHacks aims to empower, educate, and inspire women and non-binary folks across the nation.

Through FemmeHacks, we strive to create an inclusive and beginner-friendly environment in which women and non-binary people would feel empowered to pursue an academic or professional career in computer science and tech. We challenge them to go beyond the classroom and build whatever they want, from mobile to web to hardware applications, all from scratch! To help our hackers bring their ideas to life in the 12 hours of hacking on Saturday, we offered a wide variety of beginner-friendly workshops including topics on Git, Web Dev, iOS, and UI/UX on Friday. Many of our corporate sponsors such as Google Cloud and Twilio also hosted talks over the weekend and introduced hackers to APIs and frameworks that not only enhanced their projects but also expanded their technical toolkits.

For FemmeHacks 2021, hackers participated in nine prize categories, including Best Financial Hack, Best Hack for Social Good, Best Use of Google Cloud, and more. Below are a few of the winning projects that our hackers worked on over the weekend:

Best Financial Hack: Comparing Cryptocurrencies: Dogecoin vs. Ethereum

This is a model to predict the price of different cryptocurrency over the last 60 days. By comparing predicted cryptocurrency prices from the model to actual prices to determine if it is overpriced or underpriced, users can make informed decisions when buying.

Best Hack for Social Good: Mobile Medicine

Taking your medicine on time is easy to forget. Mobile Medicine serves to both remind users and to make the experience enjoyable for them. Users can message each other and connect through phone calls when it is time to take their medicine.

Best Use of Google Cloud – First Place: AllerScan

AllerScan creates an accessible platform that informs users of allergens by scanning photos of food labels. As ingredient lists often have small fonts, this app aims to relieve that challenge, for those including the visually impaired, young children, and non-native English speakers.

In previous years, we brought talented women together from nearby high schools and universities including Penn, Princeton, Rutgers, and other top CS programs in the area. Thanks to this iteration’s virtual model, we extended invitations to hackers and mentors from all over the country. This year, we had a record number of applications (645 in total) and final turnout (264 hackers), with over 20 mentors and judges — many of whom were Penn alums!

You can view all FemmeHacks 2021 winners and project submissions here. Please also visit the FemmeHacks website for more information.