$49 – $119

Hack the Gender Gap: Women's Hackathon on Diversifying AI at WVU

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WVU Reed College of Media Media Innovation Center

Evansdale Crossing Building, 4th Floor

62 Morrill Way

Morgantown, WV 26506

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Hackathon & Symposium Will Focus on Artificial Intelligence, Diversity

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a diversity problem. The authors of algorithms that drive the majority of our every day interactivity, participation and decision making do not adequately represent gender, racial or economic diversity they intend to serve. That’s why MediaShift and the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University will convene college-age women from around the country to envision their role and influence in diversifying the emerging artificial intelligence market and conceptualize more inclusive AI entrepreneurial opportunities to meet the future needs of a diverse society. Taking place on November 9-11, 2017, the weekend will kick off Thursday evening with a Special Guest Symposium, with students meeting up with faculty and professional mentors. Then Friday morning, students will break into teams to create their own startup ideas around AI + media, presenting them to judges on Sunday.

Despite the potential economic and social benefits of AI, it has a darker side. Some fear the future of automation and the elimination of jobs, while others fear the threat of “trans-humanism.” But the real danger in artificial intelligence isn’t the threat of robot overlords — it’s AI’s lack of diversity. The underrepresentation in training AI models dismisses the experience of entire segments of the population. The goal of Diversifying AI is to explore how it can unite us, empower us, and create a more just world. But we have to also confront how it can divide us, perpetuate injustices, and worse, create new ones. To truly understand these opportunities — and risks – we have to know them. This event will give participants a deep dive into the current state, problems and opportunities facing AI, and offers a series of creative exercises and fast-paced activities for teams to brainstorm solutions for a more inclusive AI that meets the future needs of a diverse society.

Note: This Hackathon does NOT require any experience in computer programming. It will focus on artificial intelligence and media, and creating business models for a media-related startup.

Travel Scholarships

Thanks to OpenNews, we are offering travel scholarships for up to $400 for students who can’t otherwise afford to get to the Hackathon. Students will be chosen according to financial hardship, with an emphasis on helping women of color to attend.

Please apply for a scholarship here, and the deadline is October 2, 2017.

Hack The Gender Gap Series

WVU Reed College of Media and MediaShift launched the Hack the Gender Gap series in 2014. The series has explored both the perils and promise of new technology, while highlighting opportunities for leadership and influence for women, minorities and other underrepresented groups in technology. Previous hackathons have helped to launch women creators in emerging technology — from wearables in 2014 to virtual reality in 2015 to internet of things (IoT) in 2016. Emerging technology is the continued focus for this series as we highlight WVU’s Media Innovation Center’s “early adoption” philosophy as a strategy for influence and agency for women in next-generation markets.

Our message to women is that early makers and developers have the opportunity to shape AI — and medias’s — future.

How It Works

From the students, faculty and pros assembled, we’ll create “dream teams” with people from various schools on one team. Each team will have a mix of necessary disciplines — marketer, designer, tech person, business-savyy pro or faculty facilitator — who will learn to work together in the crucible of the weekend Hackathon. The weekend will be a combination of focused talks and training from innovation leaders and experts, work sessions and final presentations of startups from each team. Faculty and industry experts will provide expertise to each team and help them rapidly develop their solution. Judges will pick a winning team based on the startup’s Viability, Feasibility, Social Impact and Wow Factor — as well as how well they use AI to bridge a diversity gap.

Each team will be comprised of students who will be doing the main work of brainstorming, designing and presenting their idea. Faculty and pros who attend will also be assigned to teams (or as floating mentors) to serve as facilitators and resources for the students — helping them stay on track and making sure all the students participate on the team.

Key Speakers

Erin Reilly is an innovator, educator, strategist with 20 years of experience inventing new approaches, products, and experiences. She consults on storytelling, engagement, play and learning through emergent technology. Erin was on the founding team of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab holding the positions of Managing Creative Director and Research Fellow. She has been a guest lecturer worldwide at universities as well industry conferences. She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Board President of NAMLE (National Association for Media Literacy Educators) and serves on advisory boards, such as Disney Junior and PBS. Follow her on Twitter @ebreilly or learn more about her here.

mark glaser bw headshot

Mark Glaser is founder and executive editor of MediaShift. He is a longtime freelance journalist whose career includes columns on hip-hop, reviews of videogames, travel stories, and humor columns that poked fun at the titans of technology. Glaser won the Innovation Journalism Award in 2010 from the Stanford Center for Innovation and Communication. Glaser has been a guest on PBS’ “Newshour,” NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” KALW’s “Media Roundtable” and has been a speaker and moderator at many industry conferences. He has been running events for MediaShift and acting as the MC since 2012. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Interested in sponsoring the Hackathon? Get in touch with MediaShift’s Mark Glaser at mark [at] mediashift [dot] org.

Host School

The Hackathon will be hosted by West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media, bringing in college-age women from the region and around the country to invent and envision their role and influence in an emerging technology market. The program will take place in the Media Innovation Center at the Reed College of Media. Learn more about the college here.

Students gather at the Media Innovation Center at WVU for the 2016 Makeathon


This is a female-only hackathon for any college-age woman, faculty or professional who wants to invent and envision her role in an emerging technology market. No prior technology experience is required.


Early Bird Registration costs $99 for faculty and professionals and $49 for students. After October 4, regular registration prices will be $119 for faculty and professionals, and $69 for students. There is a 10% discount for groups of 5 or more participants (plus Eventbrite fees). Registration prices help cover the cost of producing the event and catering. Registrants get free meals on Saturday and Sunday until the end of the Hackathon.

Lodging And Travel

For more information on hotels and suggested transportation options, go to our special Travel Page for the Hackathon.

When And Where?

Kick-Off Symposium: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Eastern Time at WVU Reed College of Media on Thursday November 9, 2017.
Hackathon: 8:00 am Eastern Time at WVU Reed College of Media on Friday November 10, 2017, until 2 pm Saturday, November 11, 2017.

WVU Reed College of Media
Media Innovation Center
Evansdale Crossing Building, 4th Floor
62 Morrill Way
Morgantown, WV 26506
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

6:30 p.m. – Registration and refreshments
7 p.m. – Welcome: Maryanne Reed (WVU)
7:15 p.m. – Speaker on AI + Diversity (TBD)
8:30 p.m. – Night program ends; dinner on your own

Friday, November 10, 2017

8:00 a.m. – Light breakfast
8:30 a.m. – Kickoff
Welcome: Erin Reilly (WVU)
Rules and logistics: Mark Glaser (MediaShift)
9:00 a.m. – Speaker Session 1 – Challenges for Diversity in AI: TBD
9:30 a.m. – WORK
12:30 p.m. – Lunch
1:00 p.m. – Speaker Session 2 – Human-Centered Design: TBD
1:30 p.m. – WORK
4:00 p.m. – Speaker Session 3 – Your Business and Marketing Plan: TBD
7:00 p.m. – Dinner
7:30 p.m. – Mentors and facilitators go out; teams continue to work with students only
10 p.m. – Night program ends

Saturday, November 11, 2017

8:30 a.m. – Light breakfast
9:00 a.m. – Speaker session 4 – Presenting Your Idea: TBD
9:30 a.m. – WORK on presentations
11:30 a.m. – Lunch for judges
Noon – Lunch for everyone; team presentations
1:30 p.m. – Judging in chambers
2 p.m. – Announcement of winners and closing remarks

Tweet about your experience with #gendergap and #AIdiversity.

Photos of 2016 WVU Makeathon by David Smith / WVU

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WVU Reed College of Media Media Innovation Center

Evansdale Crossing Building, 4th Floor

62 Morrill Way

Morgantown, WV 26506

View Map

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 7 days before event

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