We’ve seen how hackathons change lives. And students tell us: they blog, they post, they tweet, and they scream at the tops of their lungs about it from dorm rooms.
Unfortunately, if we only sung the successes of hackathons, we wouldn’t be telling the whole story. Something is missing.
Hackathons can only change the lives of those who we reach. Who we welcome into this community, who we accept in this community, and who feels comfortable in this community.
To create real change, MLH is looking for a Corporate Inclusivity Partner so that we can hire a Hackathon Inclusivity Director who specializes in fostering diversity in technology communities.
Who’s In the Room?
We often talk about this community as a grand, philosophically uniting group. But at this writing, this community is overwhelmingly composed of self-identifying heterosexual white and Asian males. This state of affairs is evident if you attend one of these events, and if you view our 2014 Hacker Survey.
Of course, there are countless talented, creative, and supportive hackers out there who do not fit this profile. But these are folks who the hackathon community often chews up and spits out, who don’t come back, who don’t chime in on Facebook discussions, who don’t blog about their experiences, who don’t see themselves represented in the hackathon community and who don’t see hackathons as a place they belong.
The hackathon community are devoid of their voices. And the industry is devoid of their participation. Hackathons are a foot in the door for many new technologists, and by creating a more welcoming community we believe we can have a cascading impact on the technology world as a whole.
Students who participate in hackathons are given amazing opportunities. Whether it’s 12 hours or a weekend, they can create something spectacular that has never existed before. Student hackers are the rising stars in the technology community. So, not only should all students be granted access to these events, but all students should also be able to walk away with great experiences and lessons about collaboration and inclusion that they can themselves take to the rest of the technology community.
We at Major League Hacking are committed to creating a safe, inclusive space for every hacker in the world to learn, collaborate, and build amazing things. As an organization and as a community, we must take steps in the right direction immediately.
We can do it. With time, training, and the right resources we can make this community a truly welcoming one.
Let’s Help Hackathons Change More Lives
We believe that working with community members and leaders to create a more inclusive environment is a full-time commitment. Therefore, Major League Hacking is opening applications for a Corporate Inclusivity Partner to allow us to hire an expert to focus full time on scalable ways to make our community more welcoming.
If you care about creating an inclusive hacker community, please consider supporting MLH in a financial and advisory capacity to help us:
- Implement scalable plans to train hackathon organizers
- Tailor messaging to welcome a diverse audience
- Ethically address violations of codes of conduct
- Recruit diverse hackers to build an inclusive future for the hackathon community
MLH will use these funds to:
- Hire a full-time Hackathon Inclusivity Director to create and implement solutions
- Create content & resources for organizers to understand and fix potential issues before they become problems
- Support the Inclusivity program with additional training and other resources for organizers (as recommended by this new Director).
More importantly, we will be using 100% of this sponsorship in a fully transparent way to address inclusivity in our community.
We plan to hire our new Director as soon as possible and roll out a plan for the upcoming Spring season. We are also taking immediate steps to address some pressing issues. We’re writing a stronger code of conduct, making our expectations for behavior clear, and making ourselves a resource in future incidents. We are also rolling out an anonymous incident reporting hotline that will be available at all MLH events to help us better understand and address violations as they occur.
If you or your company would like to help us spearhead this effort to build a more inclusive hackathon community, please e-mail us at [email protected] – we would love to talk more about our plans and how you can get involved.
Thank you all, and happy hacking
-Jennifer Rubinovitz, Jon Gottfried, and the MLH Team