Break­ing stereo­type

A post-AWS Hack­day chat with the DataGirls team.

HWM (Malaysia) - - SPECIAL - by Michael Low

Who says cod­ing is not for girls? At the re­cent AWS Hack­Day event in Sin­ga­pore, we spoke to DataGirls #2 – one of two all-girl teams who par­tic­i­pated in the 12-hour hackathon to come up with an in­no­va­tive so­lu­tion that solves real-world prob­lems us­ing AWS ser­vices cen­tered around ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, an­a­lyt­ics, and the In­ter­net of Things.

The group of four hails from var­i­ous in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing fi­nance, ed­u­ca­tion, mo­bile pay­ment se­cu­rity, as well as a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion cen­tered around fos­ter­ing cod­ing and tech­nol­ogy among women of all ages. What’s the story be­hind the for­ma­tion of this DataGirls team? Ee Wa:

The ob­jec­tive be­hind DataGirls (it­self a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Ke­boola and Cod­ingGirls) is to em­power more girls to code and achieve their am­bi­tions in the tech­nol­ogy world.

How did the team first came to learn about AWS’ Hack­Day event? Ee Wa:

Cod­ingGirls and Ke­boola have pre­vi­ously co-or­ga­nized Data Hackathon in 2016. From the past col­lab­o­ra­tion, Ke­boola ex­tended the in­vi­ta­tion to Cod­ingGirls, and this led to the for­ma­tion of DataGirls in the par­tic­i­pa­tion of AWS Hack­Day Sin­ga­pore 2017. The news about AWS Hack­Day was shared within the Cod­ingGirls com­mu­nity, and has at­tracted at­ten­tion from some past and cur­rent net­work­ing events, as well as workshop par­tic­i­pants.

Why do you think there was this per­ceived no­tion that ‘cod­ing is not for girls’? Ee Wa:

So­ci­ety has al­ways per­ceived that women are gen­er­ally more emo­tion­ally driven and there­fore, may not be suit­able to dive into an in­dus­try that re­quires log­i­cal think­ing. There­fore, the tech­no­log­i­cal space is pre­dom­i­nantly dom­i­nated by males, and we hardly see any fe­male speak­ers out there to share – es­pe­cially in tech­spe­cific con­fer­ences and meet-ups.

What we are try­ing to do here, in fact, is to break the gen­eral per­cep­tion about women and with time, we see that there are more and more women lead­ing tech com­pa­nies, such as Sh­eryl Sand­berg and Su­san Wo­j­ci­cki, just to name a few. So yes, time has changed and women are more em­pow­ered – in­deed are more struc­tured that any­one can imag­ine.

Could you walk us through the ‘RUN Lah’ pro­to­type that the team demon­strated at this Hack­Day? Ee Wa:

RUN Lah is a jog­ging as­sis­tant that is pow­ered by Alexa and AWS’ cloud in­fra­struc­ture for users to de­ter­mine the du­ra­tion, area, and time of day of their run. RUN Lah is ca­pa­ble of rec­om­mend­ing the best run­ning routes for you, while pro­vid­ing trans­porta­tion sug­ges­tions and weather fore­cast for your pre­ferred run-time.

Now that the team has ex­pe­ri­enced AWS Cloud, can you tell us what each mem­ber hope to gain from cloud ser­vices mov­ing for­ward? Ann:

Us­ing cloud com­put­ing ser­vices al­lows the Cod­ingGirls web­site to scale elas­ti­cally, where we will then add job por­tal that will con­nect our com­mu­nity mem­bers with job op­por­tu­ni­ties from our part­ner com­pa­nies.

Ar­pita:

AWS is a new di­men­sion in the world of cloud ser­vices. The plat­form has re­ally made it eas­ier to work on your pro­grams – any­time, any­where. I’m sure to rely on AWS ser­vices for my work to make things more ef­fi­cient, con­ve­nient and pro­duc­tive.

Ee Wa:

I have heard a lot about cloud com­put­ing and still a lit­tle skep­ti­cal about it (se­cu­rity- and pri­vacy-wise). Nev­er­the­less, for non-sen­si­tive au­to­ma­tion, I will prob­a­bly look into pro­gram­ming sim­ple so­lu­tions to bring sim­plic­ity in my life – more ef­fi­cient per­haps.

(From left to right) Tan Ee Wa, Ann Luo, Ar­pita, and Xiong Si Yang.

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