my associations of hackathons are from college, when hackathons were arduous multi-day affairs where (mostly) boys ate nothing but shitty pizza and shitty snacks, pounded nothing but coffee and red bull, and churned out code at dizzying speeds. i’m not sure if much sleeping happened.

i never felt like i fit in. for one, i like sleep and am usually in bed by 10 pm 👵🏼. is that so wrong?

i made a composting app using flutter (a super new cross platform framework created by google) a few months ago and had so much pure fun, a feeling i haven’t gotten from coding in a very long time. when a new friend mentioned the first ever international flutter hackathon was happening june 1st from 9 am - 5 pm, i agreed to go – my chance to participate in a hackathon and make my 10 pm bedtime?! unheard of.

i teamed up with 4 people i had just met, and we built and pitched FrrSure, a flutter resource review platform. i came up with the idea, built the list view screen, made the slide deck, and did the first part of the presentation. my teammates did the hard work of setting up the architecture, hooking it up to firebase, and creating the other screens. we spent just over 6 hours working on it, competed against 7 other projects/teams, and…won!

our winning team!

a few takeaways

1. pitching is just as important, if not more important, than product. our app definitely didn’t look the most beautiful, nor was it really the coolest use of technology. i believe we won the crowd vote mostly based on identifying and pitching a very real, very huge problem, and then building just enough to inspire confidence.

2. tech events are not built for women and that needs to change. i get implicitly, and sometimes even explicitly, reminded of this all the time. as a superficial example, the first thing the organizer of this event said to me as i walked in was “im so sorry, but our sizes are not very inclusive. we only have men’s cut L and XL.” i’m not going to lie and say i didn’t leave exhausted, and frustrated that i was only one of three women at an event of over 50 people. i was. and continue to be. and will be many more times in the future.

however, i also believe that…

3. i am the beginning of a community i wish to see. the tech industry as a whole has a lot of work to do when it comes to diversity – so much so, that it feels overwhelming at times. i’m hopeful that flutter, still such a nascent technology and community, might have a fighting chance at trailblazing more pathways for women.

and you bet i plan to be a part of it. i know that even just by showing up to things like this, by holding my own, and by talking about it, that i can do something to push the needle just a tiny bit more.