Women + Sports + Technology = Awesomeness

Curtis Chen
Nov. 08 2012, 12:00PM EST

What happens when women combine their love of sports with their love of technology? ESPN plans to find out this weekend, at the espnW Hack Day supporting its ESPN API and held on the Stanford University campus. And if you don't think women love sports or technology, you need to think again.

Anyone who follows college sports has heard of Title IX, the landmark 1972 legislation which prohibited schools receiving federal funds to practice gender discrimination. In the forty years since that law passed, women have demonstrated that they definitely want to play. The 2012 Brooklyn College study "Women in Intercollegiate Sport" found that female participation in college athletics is now the highest in history, with 200,000 women intercollegiate athletes in 2012.

The story in tech industries is not so good. In its 2009 report "Women in IT: The Facts," the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) found that:

"even when women are interested and accomplished in computer science or technology, they often choose other careers," and "[t]he percentage of computing occupations held by women has been declining since 1991, when it reached a high of 36 percent."

But many organizations--including tech companies always looking to hire more developers, irrespective of gender--are working to change that trend.

On November 9th and 10th, espnW, cable network ESPN's "online destination for women's sports," will present a Hack Day in partnership with the Stanford University Graduate Program in Journalism, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, and companies including Mashery, Twitter, Twilio, and Facebook. The goal is for participants to use ESPN and partner APIs to build "[m]obile, digital and social products to serve sports fans or athletes — from busy, on the go female fans to tools that connect athletes at all stages of life."

As if the opportunity to work with other passionate developers and meet tech industry professionals weren't enough, the espnW Hack Day is also offering prizes: the creators of the "best app with ESPN API" will win a trip to ESPN headquarters in Connecticut; "best use of YouTube API" wins a Nexus 7 tablet; and more. The judges include YouTube Chief Marketing Officer Danielle Teidt, Twitter for Android Senior Software Engineer Sara Haider, and Facebook Software Engineer Sophia Chung.

Registration for this free event is now full, but you can sign up for the waitlist (priority will be given to Stanford University students), or follow Twitter updates with the hashtag #hackespnw.

(Hat tip: Daily Dot)


Curtis Chen Once a software engineer in Silicon Valley; now a science fiction writer and puzzle hunt maker near Portland, Oregon. You may have seen his "Cat Feeding Robot" Ignite presentation. Curtis is not an aardvark.

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