February 1, 2018

U.N. Women’s HeforShe Sponsors Gender Equality Track at Georgetown Hackathon

Gender equality was among the tracks available at the university’s most recent Hoya Hacks, in which students from universities across the region compete to come up with creative ways of using technology to address pressing global issues.

The gender equality track, sponsored by Georgetown’s chapter of the U.N. Women’s HeforShe campaign, invited this year’s students to design prototypes for projects tackling the problem of gender-based violence.

Hundreds of students attended the university’s third annual hackathon this past weekend, when students developed apps, websites, and other digital solutions over a 36-hour period.

HeForShe is a U.N. Women solidarity movement that seeks to engage men and boys around the world as change agents in the fight for global gender equality and women’s rights.

Innovative Ideas

The movement named Georgetown President John J. DeGioia a University IMPACT Champion at the launch of the campaign in 2016.

HeForShe University IMPACT Champion institutions annually host a Global Ideathon in which students brainstorm ideas for actionable solutions to issues of gender inequality.

Georgetown has merged its Global Ideathon with Hoya Hacks for the past two years to encourage innovative uses of technology in the global fight against gender inequality.

“We are hoping the students’ innovative ideas will not just end today,” said Rosemary Kilkenny, Georgetown’s vice president for institutional diversity and equity and the hackathon’s gender track judge. “We are hoping they will continue to work on their respective programs and come up with more specific ideas for implementation.”

Jesuit Values

This year the gender equality track winner was a group of Virginia Tech students who created a virtual reality program showing the number of crimes reported in each campus building. The program can then be filtered to reflect the number of sexual assaults occurring in each location. 

The hackathon features a number of different “tracks” each year that students can follow during the competition, such as education, health, financial technology, and other issues. 

Joshua Meredith, assistant dean for Analytics, Technology, and Security Programs at the School of Continuing Studies, believes that Georgetown’s values are uniquely reflected in the topics and solutions proposed at Hoya Hacks.

“What separates the Georgetown hackathon from all the other hackathons in the country is how Jesuit values play into our founding ideals,” he said.

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