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Women and non-binary gendered alumni of coding bootcamps now have a way to connect with others like them, thanks to four Hack Reactor alumni. Underrepresented && Nontraditional, started by alumni Kate Jefferson, Katrina Uychaco, Jammie Mountz and Sarah Yu, aims to create a platform for this community, and provides career services and continuing education. The group is open to all gender-diverse coding bootcamp grads (not just those in the Reactor Core network). Hack Reactor hosted the Underrepresented && Nontraditional hackathon for engineers to finish up their pet projects before the year ends.
The Last Chance Hackathon was a fun, supportive event for the Underrepresented && Nontraditional community to connect and hack on projects. The weekend-long session drew alumni of several bootcamps, including Hack Reactor, Hackbright and App Academy. Telegraph Academy cofounder Bianca Gandolfo gave a talk on the challenges of being a woman in tech, and what she has learned in her experiences as a Hack Reactor graduate, a tech mentor, and a coding bootcamp founder.
“I appreciated the creation of a safe space, where a number of members felt comfortable enough to seek support on issues related to being an underrepresented gender in tech,” notes Mountz. “We made progress on deciding what we as a group wanted to provide to the community we're supporting.”
Afterward, people worked in teams or on their own projects. One group built a game based on a joke from the show 30 Rock. Others built skills or did coding challenges for their job hunt. The hackathon was sponsored by Github and local public radio station KQED.
“I walked away from the weekend with not only a pretty sweet project, but I also met some amazing people.” says Mountz. “The highlight was whiskey-tarot card readings on Saturday night.”
Uychaco loved watching people exchange ideas and resources, and make lasting connections.
“I think we succeeded in our goal of creating a welcoming and safe space for our participants. I saw great exchanges of ideas and resources,” Uychaco adds. “We closed out the event with a wonderful ideation session and we're looking forward to more awesome events in 2016.”
Jefferson, who graduated from Hack Reactor Remote Beta last May, has been a force for diversity in tech since entering the field. Shortly after joining SolarCity as a software engineer, she became the Chair of their Women in STEM Outreach Committee. She is also a White House LGBTQ in Tech Fellow, meaning that she was tagged to be part of a series of conferences put on by the White House on supporting people in the LGBTQ community in various industries. Underrepresented && Nontraditional is the latest of her efforts to make everyone feel welcomed in the technology sector.
“It’s important for women to know that you don’t have to be stuck,” says Jefferson. “There’s a solution and it’s technology. The jobs are here, the interesting things to do at work are here. Everyday it’s becoming a more safe environment for women.”