Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

MHacks: Refactor to Focus on Gender Inclusivity and Hacker Empowerment

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MHacks is gearing up for its 7th hackathon, MHacks:Refactor, which will take place February 19-21, 2016 on University of Michigan’s North Campus. The hackathon is a 36-hour event that allows students, from technical and non-technical backgrounds, to create and collaborate on new projects. Top engineers and product managers from across the country are brought in to be mentors and to supply the newest technology and tools for its participants.

The hackathon is known to be a big production, but this semester the creators are focusing less on numbers and more on the experience. MHacks:Refactor will revolve around gender inclusivity and hacker empowerment by establishing a 1:1 female to male hacker ratio and a 4:1 hacker to mentor ratio.

Hackers collaborating during MHacks 6.

Last semester, MHacks added an event called Women@MHacks, which was an 8-hour long event to provide an open, encouraging, and supportive environment for female engineers. There were also lightning talks from women engineers from well-known companies and a moment for them to share their stories about becoming engineers.

MHacks leadership has decided to take the Women@MHacks concept and take it further to show the importance of representation.

The MHacks director, Shayna Mehta, and Mentorship Coordinator Preeti Mohan, state in a blog post, "An environment isn’t truly inclusive unless it’s comfortable for all minority groups. Our applicant pool comes from an amazing and diverse mix of genders, races, ethnicities, academic backgrounds, and life experiences. All of these perspectives should be represented, and we plan to do our best to make sure both our hackers and our mentors reflect that."

They also state, "By making public our decision to have a 50/50 male/female ratio we want to make it clear just how important inclusivity (in this case specifically, gender inclusivity) is to us."

The event will also focus on improving mentorship. "One of the most important things we learned from past MHacks was that one-third of experienced hackers want to mentor others. Since then, we’ve worked our tails off to improve peer mentorship. So we’re setting up an even more robust system to allow attendees to fill the roles of both hacker and mentor."

To provide the best experience for each hacker they are limiting the number of attendees to 700 to make sure that each hacker gets to know their peers and mentors.

MHacks:Refactor will be hosted by The Center for Entrepreneurship. The hackathon is also a part of Major League Hacking, which is a community-run organization that supports over 40 hackathons across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.


Posted: February 12, 2016