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Twitter Embraces Girl Power With New Board Member, Hackathon

| December 5, 2013
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A Twitter banner hung outside the New York Stock Exchange when Twitter debuted its stock on November 7. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

A Twitter banner hung outside the New York Stock Exchange when Twitter debuted its stock on November 7. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

All this talk of Twitter’s alpha male founders aside, the social networking company is a more gal-friendly place these days.

Today Twitter announced that Marjorie M. Scardino has joined its eight-member board of directors — the first woman to serve in such a role.  Also today, Twitter is hosting an all-women hackathon aimed at solving pressing issues that affect women and girls around the globe — and celebrating “the power of women in tech.”

The all-women hackathon is aimed at solving pressing issues that affect women and girls around the globe — and celebrates ‘the power of women in tech.’

Scardino is a former publishing executive with Pearson, a London-based education and media conglomerate whose properties include Penguin Random House, The Financial Times and The Economist.

Twitter has been widely criticized for the absence of any women on its board and for just one woman in its executive ranks — a not uncommon state of affairs at Silicon Valley/Bay Area tech companies. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo acknowledged the problem in a tweet to critics, saying, in part: “I *think* I have an acute understanding of the topic & host of related issues. Of course, proof is in deeds”

With the Scardino news, as a GigaOm post put it, “Well all that bitching and moaning paid off.” Scardino is a smart choice for Twitter, says TechCrunch:

…via her Pearson background, she has deep connections into the media industry, as well as into Europe. The media industry is a key partner for Twitter as the company builds out its revenue-generating business with advertising and coordinated information dissemination; and it has also pinpointed international growth — that is, outside the U.S. — as a key aim going forward.

Today’s all-women hackathon, meanwhile, is a competition to develop mobile apps that will support a number of international NGOs (see below). Twitter is partnering on the 3-day event along with Women Who Code, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that promotes women in tech, and Gucci’s Chime for Change campaign. The hackathon, called Chimehack, will award a total of $50,000 to the teams that build the best app.

Chimehack challenges include:

UN Women — Create a configurable platform that women can use to assess and enhance their career skills in a specific field.

UNICEF — Create a gamified mobile app for young children to use with their parents. The app must take digital payments.

Vital Voices — Create an app to track the progress and achievements of individual women leaders, with info that can be shared online to inform and inspire others.

Riders for Health — Create a mapping application to help Last Mile Health find and reach remote villages.

 

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