There have been many efforts during the past few years to raise awareness of gender gaps and equality in the ICT industry in Sierra Leone. For this hackathon, we will recruit directly from our community to ensure we have a gender-balanced competition. With this project, we will make all communication (emails, websites, social media and other electronic and hard copy promotional materials) gender-friendly. We will avoid words that might be insensitive or intimidating to women, and instead, we will emphasise cross-collaboration and knowledge-sharing to reach women who historically have been underrepresented at competition events. We set out to create a tech event that would be equally attractive to men and women. Being explicit about attracting female talent is expected to boost the number of relevant applicants. In all of our promotional materials and public engagement, we will clearly state that female candidate are encouraged to apply.
We are cognizant of potential biases during the selection phase, where male participants may be emboldened to project more confident and outspoken displays than female participants. Selection panels will balance scoring on final presentations with other parts of the group prototype such as the strength of the idea to resolve problems. Of course, selection panels themselves will be balanced in representation. We will ensure that female mentors provide input to teams and we will seek to increase the visibility of these women that will participate through tailored leadership, personal development and mentorship regardless of cultural context or gender.
Creating more gender balance in this type of project requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders. But as key implementers, we will have to catalyse a change in mindset by leading by example. This is why we prioritise more gender-balanced representation from participating institutions and engage women-focused networks. Overall we will strive for a 50% female participation ratio rate for the project.
Moreover, throughout the events, participants will be reminded to take into account gender during the competition. We will encourage them to find solutions that incorporate mechanisms to address gender inequalities in risk communication.