Events | Sustainability | Team

Beyond the Binary: Empowering Women in Tech at HerHack

In the heart of November, I found myself immersed in the vibrant atmosphere of the HerHack event at Fachhochschule in Brugg-Windisch. The gathering, now in its third year, proved to be a melting pot of inspiration, innovation, and a powerful testament to the intersection of technology and sustainability.

I, like many attendees, sought a bridge between the realms of digital innovation and sustainable practices. As part of Advance Metrics, our commitment to sustainable business practices led me to investigate how technology could amplify our efforts. The HerHack event became the nexus where these aspirations found common ground.
The hackathon’s core revolved around tackling six sustainability challenges in Switzerland using technology. From curbing plastic waste in Canton Aargau to enhancing sustainable choices in Migros stores, the event provided a platform for dynamic problem-solving and innovative thinking.

Beyond Pink Branding: Breaking Stereotypes

HerHack distinguishes itself as a female-led hackathon, and while the branding resolutely flaunts shades of pink, the event’s essence transcends gender stereotypes. One male participant shared his seamless integration into the event, emphasizing that HerHack is not about exclusion but rather a dedicated effort to amplify the presence of women in the digital space.

Keynotes that Stirred the Mind

The event boasted insightful keynote speakers, among them neuroscientist Barbara Studer, unraveling the intricacies of firing synapses for heightened productivity, and Sarah Toms, weaving a compelling narrative of her journey in AI and business. These stories set the stage for a day teeming with inspiration and networking opportunities.

The Road to the Lighthouse

Following the HerHack event, the journey continued for my team as we were selected as one of the six finalist teams. This honor granted us the opportunity to present our solutions at the Lighthouse event hosted by digitalswitzerland, a distinct occasion focused on diversity and bias in tech.


Diversity in Tech: A Prerequisite, Not an Option

As we delved into the Lighthouse event, the focus shifted to diversity and bias in tech. The panel discussions underscored a crucial point: the very fabric of artificial intelligence is woven by the hands that program it. With a stark gender imbalance in tech professions, the risk of perpetuating biased narratives in AI models becomes all too real.
A poignant moment in the panel discussion occurred when Marco Huwiler emphasized the need for diversity in programming AI models. The reality check hit hard – there’s no time for “baby steps.” With technology advancing at breakneck speed, inclusivity in programming must accelerate to ensure unbiased AI models for the future.

Problematic Perspectives: A Hiccup in the Harmony

Despite the overall success of both events, my experience of a couple of speakers left a discordant note. Astronaut and lecturer, Ulrich Walter‘s opening keynote veered into murky waters as he patronizingly explained AI to an audience well-versed in the subject. His comments on gender intelligence seemed to detract from the event’s central theme of diversity.

Closing remarks by Sascha Zahnd, President of digitalswitzerland, echoed a tone-deaf sentiment. His anecdote about jesting with his daughter about attending a female hackathon exposed a lack of understanding. This moment, for me, underscored the need for more than just events; a fundamental shift in perception and leadership is imperative.

Conclusion: A Call for Expedited Progress

As I reflect on the multifaceted experience of both the HerHack and Lighthouse events, I recognize their significance in propelling the narrative of women in tech forward. However, the echoes of problematic perspectives remind us that progress cannot be a leisurely stroll; it must be a sprint. The urgency lies in transcending stereotypes, amplifying diverse voices, and fostering an environment where the technology of tomorrow is shaped by all.
In the face of the digital revolution, we cannot afford to move in baby steps. The call for diversity is resounding, and the time for change is now. Let HerHack and the Lighthouse event be not just moments but a clarion call for an industry-wide transformation towards inclusivity and innovation.

Our Digital Marketing services

Contact us for a non-binding consultation