Happy Pi Day!

13:37 - I can’t think of a more gloriously nerdy time to write a dev blog post than 1337-o’clock on Pi Day in the middle of SXSW! I have a little bit of catching up to do…

A week ago today I stood up in front of my fellow lady coders at Capital Factory and gave my first Lightning Learning talk (more on that in the next post…). I was in phenomenal company, as usual, but one of those talks led to my first hackathon!

Yes. This weekend was my first hackathon. I’m a little embarrassed that it’s taken so long, but I’m glad I went because this one brought together some of my passions: volunteering, helping adolescents, and diversity.

This was the second annual <div>hackathon hosted by Huston-Tillotson University, an Historically Black University here in Austin. The incomparable Autumn Caviness and her squad of volunteer students organized a hackathon focusing on Diversity in Tech. They invited high school and college age students from all over Austin for a weekend challenge: to hack mobile web solutions to problems in one of four categories: Health & Wellness, Entertainment, Education, and Business. Along the way we were treated to stellar professionals who graciously shared their experiences as minorities within the tech industry.

As a white woman, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have been the racial minority in a room. This was an amazing opportunity to hear stories I may not otherwise have heard, and to gain insight into experiences that, though different, also overlap with my own run-ins with sexism. If you ever have a similar opportunity, I suggest you take it, but take my advice: LISTEN. I mean really LISTEN. There is a temptation within those of us with privilege, be it white privilege, male privilege, cis-privilege, to immediately become defensive when we hear about the negative experiences of others, that effectively boils down to this one thought:

“Surely this isn’t MY fault.”



Fight it. This thought is missing the point entirely. Understand that just because you haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, and that just because you don’t directly contribute to it, doesn’t mean it isn’t your problem.

Written on March 14, 2016