How inclusive are tech meetups, hackathons

I attend and participate in meetups and technical events on Saturday. I started to observe the presence of more men than women in these events. The ratio of men to women looked like  75: 25 or 80:20. In last few week, I was involved in few activities and experienced some new learning and sharing the same here.

diversityI am father of 2 daughters. Last few years, my wife started to work and some Saturday morning, she needs to attend events at her work, where I offer to take care of my children. Few weeks ago, my wife had planned work for whole of Saturday and I was leading event at my office on the same day. When both of us discussed to take care of children, I decided to take my children to my office. (they hanged with my cousin for large hours across lunch). While i was happy that i can keep my children with me, they shared with me that it was exciting initially and felt bored and restless after few hours.

My personal experience made me look at our volunteers. We had one female employee to volunteer. She was one year experienced and that made it easy for her to come.   I looked at male employees and asked myself ” Who was taking care of their children in their homes?  Are their wife house-wife’s?”. Felt good when a manger brought his son for few hours to event.  I found volunteers were mainly men. I was surprised with lady HR executive who stayed whole event, possibly she is recently married.

Our whole day event(9 to 8)  got delayed by 30 minutes. My wife came and picked children around 6 pm and I was left to come home late. A mother would have found it tricky to balance delay in event and needs of her children.  My own daughters become uneasy and uncomfortable when mother come few minutes late from promised time.

In another technical meetup conduced, a female colleagues and women had come. When thanked for their participation on weekend in their busy schedules. they shared ” Event was closet to my home for me to attend”. If you look at Bangalore, more of events happen in Koramangala or IndiraNagar. What is percentage of weekends events that happen around ITPL ? When I inquired women about joining session online, they said “Not easy to join webinar. kids allow father to do office work and not mothers”. Reminded of ex-colleague who takes conference calls being  present in bathroom to reduce disturbance.

While I  consider hackathon helps to identify talent applying knowledge rather than only being good theory and enable hiring of diverse talent. How much hackathon help companies to recruit qualified  2 to 5 years experienced IT women professionals, married and mothers. Do companies miss to hire women employees using hackathons? On a different note, women employees stay for long time in their jobs compared to men. To leverage short-term benefit, are we sacrificing long-term benefit?

On Google of  words “hackathon Bangalore  women”, here are few result links.

I observe that  above were single day hackathon. Recommend companies who want to hire diverse mix of candidates to have 1-day hackathon compared to 2 -day hackathon ( Friday evening to Sunday evening). While  48 hour schedule  favors men than women, i acknowledge that married men & fathers want to spend weekend with their families.

Happy to see lot more inclusiveness  in paid events  TechSparks events are on Friday and Saturday, completes early evening, allow  participants to return home/families. HasGeek events are more on week days.  NPC events are mainly on weekdays, with night networking on the first event day. Can we measure the number of women who stay to network ? Let me thanks them for allowing Sundays to the participant families.