Inside the movement
to make the coder
LADIES WHO HACK
BY JED LIPINSKI
PHOTOGRAPHS B Y REBECCA GREENFIELD
It’s a hot July afternoon in the
Hamptons, but the pool at this
cedar-shingled mansion is empty.
A masseuse sits inside alone, her
hands unburdened. Instead, the 16
women in the house are hunched
over their laptops, debating the
effectiveness of QR codes.
“Can we make them look like
naked ladies?” says Izzy Johnston,
a software developer with a mo-
hawk. “I’m just saying, we’d get a lot
of website hits.”
Surprise! This is a hackathon.
But it’s also a lot more than that: It’s
part of a movement to draw more
women into programming. Orga-
nizers know that social stigma is a
barrier—less than 20% of under-
graduate computer-science and
engineering degrees are given to
women, and big tech companies
are almost entirely run by men—so
female coders are trying to carve
out a niche in the hacking com-
munity, showing that there’s plenty
of room for them here too.
And yes, actual
Dispatches from the
crazier coder crowd
1 // BEER-RUN FIGHTS!
At Super HappyDevHouse in Hillsborough, California, some guys
started jumping around and chanting “Beer! Beer! Beer!” A coder
physically tackled them so they’d
stop distracting everyone. “They
came to the next one much more
quietly and with a keg in tow,” says
organizer David Weekly.
2 // DOG ON THE LOOSE!
A UC Berkeley student brought his
dog to Yahoo’s University Hack Day
(he couldn’t leave it at home for 24
hours). So the guy and his partner
attached a Wiimote to the dog and
used its random walking patterns
to sort a list of integers. “Even the
dog was exhausted,” says organizer Jamie Lock wood.
3 // COUCH CRASHING!
A women’s bathroom in the University of Pennsylvania’s engineering quad has a couch. At 5 a.m.
during a hackathon, one of the
male coders extracted the couch
and passed out on it. “He used a
sponsor’s cloth banner as a blanket, then took it home,” says organizer Alexey Komissarouk.
4 // GEEK-OUT OVERLOAD!
As coders were busily working,
their silence was broken when par-
ticipant Kenny Shen got a text
message, and his phone made the
Star Trek “incoming transmission”
chirp. “Some of the guys looked up,
and there was a brief silence before
one of them smiled and went,
‘ Yeahhhh,’;” says Shen.