100 Women Hack



Last week I had the opportunity to attend a hack event put on in collaboration by the BBC and Facebook. Exciting, right? Even better, was that the purpose of the hack was to create a social media product that would be used to promote the new 100 Women season for the BBC.

100 Women is a series of programmes, features and interviews based around a list of 100 inspirational global women, named by the BBC every year. The new season starts on November 21st but until then you can check out 2015’s season.

The hack was a female only event – the participants were all female coders from various companies such as BBC and Citymapper, and were supported by BBC editors, Facebook developers etc who were also all female. It was great to be in a room filled with such confident and inspiring women.

Anyway, after an interesting introduction from a few of the faces behind the hack and 100 Women as a whole, we got to work. Myself and Agata from Citymapper decided to join forces and create something, we just weren’t sure what… With facilitation from Laura and Fiona we did some ideas generation and eventually decided on something.

Our idea was a data visualisation / meaww quiz style app to plug into Facebook. It allowed users to log in with Facebook, where it would then grab data from their profile and compare it to data about the 100 women for the season. The user would then be shown their closest matches on various categories on a web page. The idea of this was to engage and empower women by showing them how they could easily be one of the 100 Women selected for the campaign. Unfortunately we hosted this locally across two laptops – the front end on mine and the back end on Agata’s. This means I can’t link to it (and stupidly didn’t screenshot it).

The winners were going to be announced in a talk about 100 Women on Monday which I was planning to go to – especially since I had to dash early so missed some of the pitches.

Imagine my shock when I was in a sleepy Monday meeting and suddenly my email starts pinging and my phone ringing from the hack organisers trying to contact me. Turned out, our idea had won (jointly) and they waned me to represent the team in the talk. I’m going to admit, in my overtired state I didn’t really know how to react to any of this, but less than an hour later I found myself being called up on stage in front of about 40 people (including my boss’s boss) and being live streamed trying to articulate my thoughts on the hack and explain our project. Luckily, it seemed to go okay (and there doesn’t seem to be any lingering video evidence that I could find so far!)

So, this week I’ll be starting work with the other winning team to combine our ideas and actually create this product in two weeks. I’m simultaneously excited and terrified but mostly just pretty daunted by the whole thing, but I’m sure it’ll be fine! Watch this space!


For more details of 100 Women checkout their Facebook page or keep up with the hashtag #100women on Twitter
To find out more about the hack check out Simi’s blog (she was from the other winning team and has written a much fuller account of the whole thing here.

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