Harvard Women in Computer Science Hosts First Annual Conference

Tuesday Feb 11, 2014 by Diane Yang - Sophomore, Harvard College

Last weekend, Harvard Women in Computer Science launched WECode, its first annual conference for women interested in technology. The two-day event brought together over 300 women from across the country, ranging in age from high school students to young professionals.

Although representatives from several tech companies were in attendance, the primary purpose of the event was to build community among female engineers.

Saturday's events kicked off with a keynote by Chief Technology Officer at ThoughtWorks Rebecca Parsons, who commented on the hurdles women still face in engineering.

Two additional keynotes were delivered by Senior Director of Engineering at Box Kimber Lockhart and Goldman Sachs partner Marie Louise Kirk. In between, the day was packed with a series of lightning talks, panels, technical workshops, and mixers.

The conference reconvened on Sunday, when an all-day hackathon took place at the Harvard Innovation Lab. After a panel discussion featuring Min Wang (Google research scientist), Ann Wollrath (early developer of Java), and Margo Seltzer (systems professor at Harvard), conference participants formed teams and began hacking away on their ideas.

At the close of the day, winners were selected by a panel judges. First prize was awarded to a team from the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, who built an app that notifies the user whenever someone sends free food and items on campus.

WECode was founded by JN Fang, a sophomore at Harvard studying computer science. Inspired by the book Lean In, by Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, Fang started organizing the conference with Harvard Women in Computer Science about five months in advance.

In the end, the hard work paid off. WECode 2014 was filled with new friendships and learning experiences. Next year, be sure to keep an eye out for WECode 2015!

Click through to learn more about WECode and Harvard Women in Computer Science.  Make sure you also check out the pictures from the event below!

Diane Yang is a sophomore at Harvard College.  You can follow Diane Yang on Twitter (@diane_xy) by clicking here.

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