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Students attend College of Media-sponsored hackathon at USC Annenberg

In an ongoing effort to close the gender gap between women and technology, the College of Media is partnering with MediaShift to host and sponsor events that empower women to overcome barriers in the growing media technology industry.

On October 9-11, the College of Media co-sponsored a Women’s Hackathon at the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg. College of Media graduate students Colleen Good, Cassandra Lang and Shishira Sreenivas were among more than 50 students from across the country who attended the three-day event in Los Angeles, California.

The hackathon kicked off with a panel discussion, “Hack the Gender Gap: How Women in Media and Tech are Achieving Success, Breaking Down Barriers and Making a Difference,” and included a line-up of successful female entrepreneurs and journalists from companies like Raptor Group and Twigtale.

Throughout the weekend, participants heard from female experts in the media and technology industries. They also worked in teams to create a product, start-up or app that combined virtual reality (VR) and journalism in an innovative way. On Sunday, they pitched their ideas to a panel of judges.

Good and her team developed the concept for an app that aggregates VR news content from disparate sources into one platform. While they didn’t win, Good says the development process of brainstorming and idea-generation was a learning experience in itself.

“Even with a fairly similar group of people – in this case, female students studying journalism and tech – the variety of experiences and ideas people bring to the table allow for the development of exciting new concepts and strategies.”

Lang agreed. “I liked being in this ‘environment of ideas,’” she said. “I really enjoyed collaborating with all of these smart, ambitious women.”

The USC-Annenberg event was the second in the Women’s Hackathon series, co-sponsored by Mediashift and the College of Media. Last October, the College of Media hosted the first Hack the Gender Gap event, which included a live bi-coastal panel event with Google in Silicon Valley.

The events are designed to bring together college-age females from around the country to “hack” solutions for media and technology and to learn about opportunities in the emerging marketplace while being mentored by prominent female leaders in the industry.

This spring, the College of Media will host the third and final event in the Hack the Gender Gap series in its new Media Innovation Center on the WVU Evansdale Campus on April 1-3. Details will be forthcoming.

Learn more about the students’ experience on their Storify post.