Montgomery Girls Attend Boston’s All-Female Hackathon

Ananya Sankar
3 min readSep 27, 2020

On March 22nd, the Montgomery community took one small step for man, and one giant leap for women in STEM. Led by MHS junior Iccha Singh, a group of roughly 50 girls from Montgomery and surrounding towns joined their second year at TechTogether Boston: the city’s largest student-run all-female and non-binary hackathon.

Previously known as SheHacks, the weekend event held in Agganis Arena included a plethora of different coding activities for their over 1,200 attending beginners and experts. An amalgam of both high school and college women were able to network with professionals, become more comfortable with coding, and interact with breakthrough technological platforms. “We want to break the stereotype of how hackathons are perceived. As we move forward, we can set the new standard for a more fun, inclusive, and healthier environment,” Singh admits.

Founder Fiona Whittington, a student at Boston University, originally created the event as a way to empower women who took an interest in the STEM field, observing that often times societal pressures would dissuade them from continuing. The gender disparities in the STEM sector of the job market are no secret; but it’s what we do to resolve this stratification that matters.

Singh agrees, “[Fiona] felt there weren’t enough role models, resources, or facilities where women could excel. Through Together Boston, we hope to unite girls from across the nation and get them involved, interested, and excited about coding.”

Singh first met Whittington at UPenn’s hackathon PennApps in 2016, where the two immediately clicked. This past year, Iccha was promoted to High School Director of TechTogether’s marketing team. As co-president of the MHS STEM board, she felt a need to begin exposing younger generations to the power of coding, in hopes that passion could spark at an earlier age.

However, attending the hackathon for a second year in a row required fundraising. Through the efforts of Montgomery friends, faculty, and administration such as superintendent Nancy Gartenberg, Singh was able to raise nearly $3,000 to cover the cost of bussing girls from Princeton to Boston.

As an added benefit (and a thrill for parents), Singh got a representative from Boston University admissions to visit the event and distribute ‘demonstrated interest’ slips to attending high schoolers. “We had mentors from sponsored businesses working with teens, and a few college students left the weekend with brand-new internships. It was cool to see how advantageous the experience was for students to be there.”

TechTogether program director Ashwini Chauhan praised Singh’s efforts: “Iccha not only recruited girls from her state of NJ, but she also initiated an incredible fundraiser which brought attention from prominent figures in technology including Reshma Saujani, CEO and Founder of Girls Who Code.”

Many attending beginners were touched by the excitement of the weekend. “Not only is TechTogether geared towards female hackers, but it’s structured with tons of workshops which really help beginners like me,” says MHS sophomore Naina Waghray.

MHS junior Helen Yang echoes, “TechTogether was such an incredible experience filled with so much innovation and excitement. Coming from a family that loves coding, I felt this could be a golden opportunity to immerse myself into their world and find out what it was they love so much.”

The two ladies received an award for their winning project over the weekend, an impressive feat given that they were both beginners at the start of the hackathon.

But just as the STEM universe is constantly evolving, this all-female hackathon is only just getting started. Current projects in the works include a collaboration with BU’s Spark Program to blend entrepreneurship with coding, and a pre-hack event to better assimilate beginners.

Originally published at https://www.themontynews.org/ in March 2019.

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