Watch: SAGHS girls dominate at Caribbean Girls Hack 2019
The girls of St. Augustine Girls High School (SAGHS) have emerged as champions at the Caribbean.Girls.Hack 2019 Hackathon.
They, along with over 300 girls representing Trinidad and Tobago's rising talent in the ICT sector, took part in the hackathon, which took place at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy on May 24. Organised by SheLeadsIT co-founders Bridget Lewis and Nicole Pitter Patterson, the event was part of International Girls in ICT Day celebrations all over the world and sought to encourage and empower young women to pursue studies and careers in ICT.
Gasparillo Secondary School came in second place and Swaha Hindu College placed third.
Additional categories included Best Social Media (Fyzabad Secondary); Best Capacity Build (San Juan North Secondary); Best Organised Team (Parvati Girls Hindu College); Best Idea (San Juan North Secondary) and Best Team Spirit (St. Augustine Girls High School).
The cohort of female students, who hailed from over 20 schools across the country, was part of a wider global initiative created to fill the gender gap for females in the technology sector. Across the Caribbean, girls engaged in a two-month immersive webinar-based training, involving activities with international tech mentors and other subject matter experts, to creatively problem solve around 2019 programme’s two core causes: Gender-Based Violence and Climate Change and Resilience.
To ensure the competing girls were on the right track throughout the day, some of the girls of Chaguanas North Secondary School--which won two years in a row--served as mentors.
Lawanda John and Seanelle Regis spoke with Loop, explaining their roles as mentors as well as what they've been up to since their last win.
"The teams would have had certain issues that we would have dealt with in the past so our job was to give advice and help them overcome those issues," said Lawanda John. "I'm so proud. I was actually very excited when they won, they deserved what they got."
Chaguanas North's 2018 winning pitch was an accessory line that doubles as a geographic marker and sends out an SOS alert to family and friends when in danger.
"We launched our pitch (from 2018) in April and we're going forward with that and we're looking forward to seeing where it carries us," said Seanelle.
In addition to Trinidad and Tobago, this year’s programme took place in four other Caribbean countries including Jamaica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados and was run in collaboration with Caribbean regional technology partner, Restore a Sense of I Can (RSC) Tech Clubs, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC), and the Caribbean Association of Principals of Secondary Schools (CAPSS).
She Leads It co-founder Bridget Lewis noted the global impact of the programme, saying: “Globally the jobs of the future are becoming heavily tech-based, but tech is still space which is highly male-dominated. Girls and women face many barriers to entry and are not encouraged or given the tech skills necessary to properly equip them for these jobs. Girls in ICT Day brings awareness to the need for women to take part in the future of ICT, and ensure that capable and talented girls don’t get overlooked.”
Her partner, Nicole Pitter Patterson added that, “Through the Hackathon activities, we engaged the “Hacker Girls” in a deeper understanding and a critical thinking process, around the issue of GBV and Climate Change and Resilience to equip them to create technology solutions that are practical and workable and by doing so begin the process of seeing themselves as change agents to address these issues, not only in the Caribbean but Globally.”
Technology partner, Raj Ramdass, also said “We have experienced for ourselves how the contributions of women in tech are invaluable. Getting the best tech talent into the Trinidad and Tobago workforce is imperative, which means there must be space for everyone to learn, including girls.”