The hackathon event was mainly geared towards women, but male developers interested in mobile apps development were welcomed.

When it comes to the fast-growing world of science, technology, engineering, and math or STEM jobs, a Census Bureau study reported that although women make up half of the workforce, only about 26 percent of them go into STEM fields. This underrepresentation of women is why Howard University and AT&T are working together. The goal is to build a strong diverse workforce in technology and entrepreneurship, through a two-day competition: “AT&T & Howard Mobile App Hackathon DC – Women in Tech.”

The hackathon event was held Oct 10-11 at the Howard University School of Business. Though it was mainly geared towards women, male developers interested in mobile apps development were welcomed.

“Typically, hackathons no longer mean a bunch of people competing to hack into somewhere that they ought not to hack into,” said Micah Crump, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Howard. “So now hackathon has taken on many different meanings, from entrepreneurship competitions, and in today’s hackathon world, it means building an application.”

Crump explained that one major stereotype about the technology field is that it is mostly for geeky looking White and Asian men sitting in front of computer. “Lots of times the demographics of IT coders and programmers does not look like Howard University demographic.” Crump said more events like this need to be organized to dispel this stereotype.


The hackathon event was mainly geared towards women, but male developers interested in mobile apps development were welcomed.

Crump explained that although Black men and women are interested in coding, their lack of exposure to coding and programing hinders their exploration the field. “Women historically are not well represented in this group. AT&T and a lot of their partners have programs geared to bringing women and people of color into coding application space.  The hackathon event also introduced students interested in marketing, sales or advertising to the vast opportunities in the technology field.

Students registered for the hackathon were given the option to pair themselves or work on their entrepreneurship idea independently.

Andre’a Taylor, a 22-year-old Howard graduate, said that though she has no prior experience in coding, she registered for the competition because she believes she could integrate her entrepreneurship venture by learning how to create a mobile app. One of her group partners, Ranjay Salmon, a senior majoring in systems and computer science, said he registered because he has always been a coding enthusiast. Salmon’s responsibility in the group was making sure the coding for their app, called Doughflow came to fruition.  The app allows roommates to share common area expenses. It works as a communication medium where if they were to decide on buying a couch, each roommate would drop their part of the payment through the app.

Technical experts from AT&T and mentors were also in the building to assist students with coding their apps.

Jazelle Merrit, a 22-year-old Howard graduate, was a solo participant. Her entrepreneurship venture called Vibes connects social media users through its application. “Now that everything is in the smart world, you kind of have to start thinking about how your ideas can be converted into apps that you can get paid off .”

“The social network aspect of Vibes is that while it’s changing your mood, you are also able to see how your friends are feeling,” Merrit explained.

AT&T Director of Public Affair Yvette Pugh said that in the technology field, there are now a number of things women can do. “It’s not just a male’s field anymore, and that is what AT&T is trying to show with this event.”

The competition prizes includes: a $1500 gift card to be split within the team for first place or Best App from a Women Led Team; $1000 gift card cards for Best App from an All-Women Team; $1000 cash as well $500 cash that will be donated to a local women’s organization of the team or individual who wins Best use of IBM Technologies; and $500 gift card for Best Tutorial App using AT&T APIs.