Women are the ultimate problem solvers.

That’s why Girls in Tech Australia brought together 80 of the brightest minds in Melbourne, to join eight of the most unique and diverse charities, for two days of innovating, conceptualising and prototyping.

In conjunction with Girls in Tech chapters across six continents, the Australian team ran a global-first, unique hackathon program to tackle crucial business challenges.

Hackathons exist to enable the rapid prototyping of a range of solutions to a complex problem in a short period of time. By choosing to hack for humanity, the goals were to help change charities with tech, whilst also allowing impassioned women to engage in innovation and entrepreneurship within the tech ecosystem.

‘Hack the Heart’ was the theme for this hackathon, with the aim to bring health to the forefront with technology.

It’s been very topical recently that health charities are looking for support with their community engagement or that they have had security issues. The goal of this hack was to solve some issues for health charities using technology—whether it was coming up with a new marketing strategy or creating an app to engage with a diverse audience—the hackers had the opportunity to choose a charity based on a broad spectrum of business problems.

Over three days, comprising a pre-hack to form teams, a 48-hour coding marathon, cross-discipline teams of designers, developers, product managers, marketers and testers created business-changing solutions for their charities.

While there are so many worthy charities and causes in the health space, the Girls in Tech team hand selected eight organisations to help our hackers grow. They included: Missing Persons Advocacy Network, Lungitude Foundation, Little Dreamers Australia, Headspace, Emerge, mAdapt, Sacred Heart Mission and Korin Gamaji Insititute.

Hosted by local digital transformation company, IE Digital, hackers were treated to a unique experience with a yoga class running on Saturday and Taco Truck arriving on Sunday just before the ‘hack-market’ and pitching of concepts began.

The Girls in Tech Australia chapter is fortunate enough to have the support of iconic technology companies that sent along mentors and supported this venture to help grow the industry. REA Group and Australia Post shared their time and expertise across the weekend and the quality of outputs was in large part due to their experience at hackathons.

The hack was also lucky to be supported by FB Rice, who donated a $2,000 cash prize to be given to the winning charity, along with General Assembly providing training vouchers for the winning participants to use and help grow their skills.

After 48 hours, and as judged by Nigel Dalton (Chief Inventor of REA Group), Claire Bourke (GM of Technology for Australia Post), Geoff Campbell-Burns (COO of IE Digital) and Susan Brown (MD of Girls in Tech Australia), the winning team was a group from IE Digital who chose to hack for Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN).

MPAN provides support to family and loved ones of a missing person in their darkest time. The team wanted to make the process of creating a search campaign as easy as possible.

The team created a solution that simplifies the campaign creation process and automatically generates posters, social media assets and tools for the families of missing persons to use in their search. They’ve also added a feature which allows the MPAN team complete control over the campaigns going live, to ensure they can review before distribution.

The engagement and nurturing of skills for women in tech is crucial. The number of women gaining science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degrees throughout Australia has grown over the past decade, but the industry is still male dominated.

The latest data, from 2011, showed 84 per cent of people with a STEM qualification were male.

This is why Girls in Tech will be continuing to create meetups, hackathons, bootcamps and global conferences to bring the community together over the coming year. Get involved at:  melbourne.girlsintech.org.



Generosity_Jessica-BoxJessica Box is Brand and Marketing Manager for IE Digital, runs Silicon Block Party and is Head of Events for Girls in Tech in Australia. Jessica partners with clients and technology businesses to help share their stories and expand their reach in the technology landscape. IE is the Innovation and Experience company, working with the likes of Lexus, Toyota, Bupa, AGL and Australia Post on digital transformations.