Over 50 girls will represent Barbados’ rising talent in the ICT sector, as they take part in the Caribbean Girls Hack – 2019 Hackathon and interactive Tech Expo. It will take place on Saturday, August 31, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, as part of the AnimeKon Expo.
The Hackathon, which is part of the International Girls in ICT Day programme of the International Telecommunications Union, is organized by SheLeadsIT co-founders Bridget Lewis and Nicole Pitter Patterson. It encourages and empowers young women to pursue studies and careers in ICT, to fill the gender gap for females in the technology sector.
Barbados is the final leg of the Hackathon, which has already taken place in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada, and is run in collaboration with Caribbean regional technology partner, Restore a Sense of I Can Tech Clubs, with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The group of girls are drawn from schools across the island, and are part of a wider global initiative created to fill the gender gap for females in the technology sector.
Across the Caribbean, girls engaged in a two-month immersive webinar-based training, involving activities with international and regional tech mentors and other subject matter experts, to creatively problem solve around the 2019 programme’s two core themes – Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Climate Change and Resilience.
“Girls in ICT Day brings awareness to the need for women to take part in the future of ICT, and ensure that capable and talented girls don’t get overlooked.”
Using various technology tools in mobile app building, coding, web design, gaming, animation, the girls will work under a ticking clock to refine their solutions, which they will pitch to a panel of judges. The winners will receive prizes, including tech gadgets, as well as learning opportunities such as internships and scholarships to tech camps and conferences.
Ms. Lewis spoke about the global impact of the programme. “Globally, the jobs of the future are becoming heavily tech based, but the tech arena is still highly male dominated. Girls and women face many barriers to entry and are not encouraged or given the tech skills necessary to properly equip them for these jobs.
Girls in ICT Day brings awareness to the need for women to take part in the future of ICT, and ensure that capable and talented girls don’t get overlooked.”
Her partner, Ms. Pitter Patterson, said: “Through the Hackathon activities, we will engage the “Hacker Girls” in a deeper understanding and a critical thinking process around the issues of GBV and Climate Change and Resilience to equip them to create technology solutions that are practical and workable, and by doing so begin the process of seeing themselves as change agents to address these issues, not only in the Caribbean, but globally.”
The wide-reaching importance of this initiative has garnered high praise and support from the Caribbean Association of Principals, government ministries and agencies, international funding agencies and corporate sponsors across the Caribbean.
Director of Public Affairs and Communications for Scotiabank Caribbean, Yanique Forbes-Patrick, said: “Scotiabank is very excited to be a part of Caribbean Girls Hack – Girls in ICT Day 2019…. This initiative is an excellent fit for us, as not only are we committed to becoming a digital leader in the financial services industry, but we are also steadfast in our commitment to helping young people become better off and discovering their full potential.”
Other regional sponsors include CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, LOOP News, with support from the Inter-American Development Bank.
The public may follow the progress of the “Hacker Girls” on social media using hashtags #FutureSafeGirls and #ClimateSafeFutureSafe.