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Hacking for Social Change

Hackathons are about so much more than just coding. When combined with social change, the results can be amazing.

On Friday, July 19 Walmart Labs in Sunnyvale played host to the first Hackathon for Social Change. The event, billed as an inaugural STEM + Sports Hackathon, saw 50 girls ages 11-15, come together from schools in the Bay Area and beyond for a day of learning and working to create solutions to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with a special emphasis on sports.

At the Hackathon for Social Change, the girls were told that only about 30 percent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. They were challenged to find a creative solution.


The girls’ ideas had to meet at least one of IF/THEN’s priorities:

  1. Elevate women in STEM professions as role models and ambassadors;
  2. Illuminate the importance of STEM in sports;
  3. Create better portrayals of women in STEM and sports in the media

Once the girls worked together to form their ideas, they were challenged to make a presentation that explained the strategy behind their solution, ensured each member in the group participated, articulated a plan for how the idea might be implemented in their community, create a Google or PowerPoint presentation, and then present their idea.

The girls’ ideas would be judged based off if their ideas aligned to IF/THEN’s priorities, the uniqueness of their idea, why they chose their solution, how it will be executed, how professional their presentation was, and if their presentation involved everyone in their group. If the ideas met all the criteria, then the team at IF/THEN would consider implementing them.

The Hackathon event came together through the cooperation of the San Francisco 49ers EDU Academy, Play Like a Girl ( and SheIs (


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