Memphis' First Women’s Hackathon is a Celebration of Ingenuity, Innovation and Diversity in Technology

June 14, 2018 - The FedEx Institute of Technology is uniting with tech organizations in Memphis to bring the first women's hackathon to Memphis. ATHENAtechne, hosted at the FedEx Institute of Technology July 20-21, is a hackathon designed to cultivate a positive environment for women in technology from across the region. The free event encourages women interested in the possibility of technology to come together, collaborate on projects, and compound the opportunities for women in technology. The event is open to females who are at least 10 years old.

Despite comprising 57 percent of university students nationally, only 20 percent of science, technology, math and engineering students are women. A recent survey found that about one in three employees at Google, Facebook and Apple is female. It is the responsibility of the technology community to cultivate opportunities for innovation that encourage women to take part in this rapidly growing field, and to foster spaces and places that create a strong community of empowered female technology professionals.

"Over the last decade, we have seen growing opportunities for females to gain exposure to technology opportunities in school," said Sarah Holland, president and founder of Memphis Women in Technology. "Despite this, we see real challenges as these young women make the transition into professional environment. ATHENAtechne provides women in this region an opportunity to come together and show the amazing talent that this community has to offer."

Participants in the hackathon are allowed to bring any skillset to the table. The best hackathons bring together diverse backgrounds and experiences to create truly unique ideas. In addition to programmers and web designers, graphic designers, artists, writers and those in any other creative medium are encouraged to participate. ATHENAtechne offers a safe and engaging environment to learn something new, meet new people and cultivate a whole new perspective on technology innovation in Memphis.

"Part of the mission of the FedEx Institute of Technology is to build Memphis' reputation as a national destination for emerging technologies innovators," said Cody Behles, assistant director of the FedEx Institute of Technology. "That mission necessitates a commitment to building the diversity of our technology community. Sometimes the best way to do that is to cultivate opportunities that encourage participation in unique ways. We look forward to seeing what the inaugural ATHENAtechne will produce."

Programs specifically designed to encourage young women to engage in the experience will also be available. Organizations like Black Girls Code, Tech901 and CodeCrew are partners in cultivating the experience and helping make technology skills accessible for everyone, regardless of background. Starting Friday evening and running through Saturday, ATHENAtechne will provide a great opportunity to educate young women and allow them to network with professionals and leaders in the technology space.

Stephanie Ivey, who has helped cultivate diversity in the engineering disciplines through her role as Herff College of Engineering associate dean for research and project director of MemphiSTEM, is excited to see such opportunities appearing in Memphis.

"If we are going to make Memphis competitive globally, it is important that we engage the entire community," said Ivey. "Women make up half of our population, and they should be half of our STEM students as well."

Holly Whitfield, ATHENAtechne board member, is excited to see more technology events in Memphis. "From my vantage point at the I Love Memphis Blog, I see the City of Memphis becoming more and more dynamic and engaging," Whitfield said. "Events like ATHENAtechne help change the conversation about Memphis, and I look forward to seeing this amazing group of women come together for a hackathon."

To register, visit https://www.athenatechne.com/. For more details, contact Mary Ann Dawson, assistant director of the FedEx Institute of Technology, at mdawson@memphis.edu.


Mary Ann Dawson | 901.678.1592 l mdawson@memphis.edu