‘Women Only’ tech hackathon delivers tech solutions to accelerate return to the ‘New Normal’
Global tech giants, VCs, start-up accelerators and leading start-ups lend their prowess to finding solutions under the aegis of WiT
WiT (Women In Technology), India is a platform that has attracted some of the biggest global tech firms, start-ups, VC’s, Edutech, and Learning companies in India to focus on increasing gender balance in STEM careers through engagement, enablement and employment. Announced towards the end of May 2020, WOMEN CO[vi]DE WARRIORS an all-Women Hackathon in partnership with IBM and Sequoia Capital turned out to be a successful effort to bring together an all-woman ‘power force’ from the tech world to envisage and create solutions against an invisible enemy that has disrupted our lives and challenged the normal.
WiT launched the largest women Technology professionals Hackathon a few weeks back. Recently, they announced the winning solutions that have emerged basis criticality, implementation and scalability, to accelerate the return to the ‘new normal’. The top three of the selected solutions, besides their awards, will be provided mentoring to develop their ideas and to bring these to market through VCs and industry. There were also 2 popular choice awards from open voting on ideas by public, which will also receive mentoring and support from WiT and the interested companies.
The winning solutions include:
- The winning solution was from the team from Jio that addresses counterfeiting of drugs in the market by using a blockchain mechanism powered by AI engine and IoT
- The team from Credit Suisse was at second place with a solution to ‘fact-check’ the spread of deliberate misinformation and rumours across social media platforms
- The Olx team presented a solution that builds trust in the hygiene levels of food delivered through apps by ‘live tracking’ food orders
- Besides this, another team from Jio won the popular choice award for presenting a solution that can track and provide real-time information on hospitals and its inventory of beds and ventilators.
- Next popular choice award winner was the team from Deloitte India that presented a concept for a farmer assistance system that supports farmers in the pre and post harvesting season
Anuranjita Kumar, Founder & Chairperson of WiT says, “WiT started as a small dream of enabling women in tech and before we realised was already an industry movement of sorts and about 100 companies have come onboard on our platform. As for the hackathon, It is encouraging and inspirational to receive more than 425 solutions at a time when all of us have been working in silos out of our respective homes. These ideas have taken on big challenges with a passion to build implementable solutions led by technology that can be helpful for humankind. Our partner organisations that have been the guiding light to the success of this
movement and we are confident that this is just the beginning of the road for the winning ideas.”
Sugandha Srikanteswaran, VP – Journey to Cloud CoE at IBM says, “Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenges, and at IBM, we believe that developers can leverage open source technologies including AI, Cloud, IoT to create solutions to take on this world’s most pressing issues. The WiT all-Women Hackathon, powered by IBM, saw participants creating prototypes in less than 100 hours – a powerful example of how technology can be leveraged to play a pivotal role as governments and organisations look to reset and recover from the pandemic.”
Anandamoy Roychowdhary, Director – Technology, Sequoia Capital India LLP shares, “This was a woman-in-tech hackathon and nowhere was that clearer than in the choice and selection of projects – all aiming for maximum impact on real pressing issues, and not just vanity hacking, with a focus on providing true value to the end user. This is why we need more women in tech. Not because it will help them, but because it will truly benefit tech.”
With participation from over 425 teams of women technologists across the country, the scores of diverse solutions ranged from solving migrant labourer issues, household helping apps, supporting mental well-being during the present crisis just to mention a few.
The top 15 finalists presented their ideas to a jury of industry stalwarts including Anandamoy Roychowdhary (Director- Technology, Sequoia Capital India LLP); Dr. Avnish Kshatriya (Global Head & Principal Consultant-Transformation Office and Data & Insights Advisory, Wipro Limited); Harjinder Kaur Talwar (MD & CEO of Comvision (India) Pvt Ltd. & Former President at FICCI FLO); Manish Bharti (President, UIPath); Rutvik Doshi (MD & General Partner, Inventus Capital India); Shalini Kapoor (IBM Fellow & CTO for AI – AI applications, IBM); Simmi Dhamija (CTO, Tech Mahindra); and Vijaya Kumar Ivaturi (Co-founder & CTO, Crayon Data). The underlying theme that brought the jury together was the common purpose of belief – the need of having more women in leadership roles in the tech industry.
About WiT and it’s Objectives:
India has one of the largest tech employee workforce anywhere in the world and like most industries, female participation in tech workforce continues to remain low. Women In Technology or WiT is a social enterprise to specifically address this need of increasing women participation in STEM leadership roles. Founded in March, 2020, WiT works with communities of women at various levels to accelerate their journey from a classroom to boardroom by focusing in 3 E’s i.e. Engagement, Enablement and Employment. WiT has partnered with organizations like Great Learnings, HackerEarth, STCH and Altitudes to work with women communities at workplaces, colleges and schools to ensure women talent transitions into capable workforce by building awareness, assessing skills, training and mentoring. Currently, WiT through its portal womenintechnology.in, runs a variety of women only initiatives. These include training courses, assessments, mentoring by industry veterans, women only job opportunities, hackathon, leadership connect sessions and virtual conferences
Increasing women participation in technology roles is high on the agenda of organizations and some of them have supported WiT by leading the activities and chapters in their respective cities. IBM, Optum, and UiPath have been instrumental in leading the cause in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi/NCR respectively. One such program is Abhyasika where girls from slums come to a classroom every evening where they can study and complete their homework in a peaceful manner and with proper assistance. Similarly, programs like Girls Rising in Technology (GRIT) and Second Careers are aimed at college going girls and women who return to workforce after maternity respectively. With the help of the partner organizations, WiT has seen active participation from over 70 corporates in India who have joined hands with WiT’s mission, and we aim to impact over a million women over the next 2 years.
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