When we think “hacker”, nine times out of ten , we think of someone who is using their gift for something that could be potentially malicious or using their gift to further their own gain. Hacking has been around for a while, though, and has even become so popular that it has been featured in many different feature length films, such as The Matrix. For those that may not be familiar with the term “hacking”, it can be defined as manipulating a computer system in some way, especially to gain access to an otherwise off limits or secure program or system. Some are able to use this skill to great advantage though, and some even use it for the greater good. Take for the “Hackathon for Women” set in India for example. These technically proficient women have been using their hacking skills for the greater good by working on different humanitarian projects at the Hackathon.
The three main projects that have been the main focus of the women’s event were Bachchao, Clinical Reminders, and MifosX. The event, now in its fourth time going, was able to bring out over 100 female hackers and coders to the event. Bachchao had a specific premise in mind. It was worked on by many of the female coders and hackers to build a crowd-sourced map with hotel and police station locations to help women travelers who may be in danger or worried for their well-being. The map is called Safemap and was introduced at the 2012 Hackathon. The Clinical Reminders program was pretty self explanatory and had many different women working to create a web service that gives reminders about immunizations, examinations, and medical tests and more for women. The MifosX project focuses on financial micro-servicing and micromanagement to help keep track of funds, savings, deposits, loans, etc. for roughly 2.5 billion unbanked and poor individuals on a global scale. All of these projects were worked on by female coders and hackers from all over India.
With such an incredible event happening, it can be easy to see just how the art of hacking can be used for the greater good. One, Geetha Kannan, a represtative of the Anita Borg Institute who co-hosted the conference was stated saying, “The days of male-only coding platforms are gone and will hopefully never come back.” It was a way of praising all the hardworking women that not only attended the event, but furthered the research and capabilities of the programs that were already started at the previous conferences. While, yes, this was an all women based event to show that not only men can be excellent coders, and not only men can do it to benefit others. These women have done a great help for an even greater cause and it can only be expected that they will be doing even more at next years event.