Hack the Gender Gap: Women's Hackathon at USC Annenberg


Hackathon to empower female students with focus on immersive journalism

There’s a serious gender gap in both the journalism and technology industries — especially in business and leadership roles. That’s why MediaShift and the USC Annenberg School for Journalism and Communication are hosting a Women’s Hackathon — a weekend designed for students to develop technological and entrepreneurial skills critical to the journalism jobs of the future, and gain hands-on experience with immersive journalism and virtual reality. Taking place on October 9 to 11, 2015, the weekend will kick off Friday evening with a discussion among top women in media and tech. Then the students will break into teams to create their own startup ideas aroundimmersive journalism and VR, presenting them to judges on Sunday. Female faculty and professionals from around the country will serve as team facilitators and mentors. Undergraduate and grad students are welcome to participate.

The weekend event is MediaShift’s second Women’s Hackathon after last year’s bi-coastal blow-out, with a hackathon at West Virginia University and panel at Google in Silicon Valley.

This year’s event is sponsored by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and WVU’s Reed College of Media.

Thanks to the Ford Foundation, we have 10 travel scholarships of up to $500 each to offer to female students who cannot afford travel to Los Angeles. Applications are closed for travel scholarships.




nonny headshot


Nonny de la Peña has been called “The Godmother of Virtual Reality” by Engadget and The Guardian, while Fast Company named her “One of the People Who Made the World More Creative” for her pioneering work in virtual reality. As CEO of Emblematic Group, she uses cutting edge technologies to tell stories — both fictional and news-based — that create intense, empathic engagement on the part of viewers. A graduate of Harvard University, a former correspondent for Newsweek and television drama writer, de la Peña has more than 20 years of award-winning experience in print, film and TV. Her virtual reality work has been featured by the BBC, Mashable, Vice, Wired and many others. Screenings and showcases around the globe have included the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals, The World Economic Forum in Davos, Formula 1 Singapore, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Moscow Museum of Modern Art, and Games For Change; she has also garnered top awards at major gaming festivals including winning the prestigious “Impact Award” at Indiecade. You can follow her on Twitter @NonnyDLP.



Jessica Jackley is an entrepreneur focused on financial inclusion, the sharing economy and social justice. She is best known as a cofounder of Kiva, the world’s first and largest peer-to-pear micro-lending website. She is also a cofounder of ProFounder, a pioneering crowdfunding platform for U.S. entrepreneurs, and Kin & Co. consulting group, helping organizations support women and working families. She is the author of the recently published book,“Clay Water Brick” (Spiegel & Brau). You can follow her on Twitter@jessicajackley.


amara aguilar


Amara Aguilar is an associate professor of professional practice in digital journalism at USC Annenberg. She previously was the journalism department chair and an assistant professor of journalism at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she advised student news publications and led the journalism program’s mobile and tablet initiatives. She was honored by the California Journalism Education Coalition as “Journalism Educator of the Year” in the two-year college division in 2014. Previously Amara taught multimedia as an assistant professor at Pierce College in Los Angeles, where she taught multimedia storytelling, podcasting, online journalism, media design and development. Follow her on Twitter @amara_media.


kirstin falk headshot


Kirstin Falk is the managing director of marketing innovation at Charles Schwab. She has worked at the intersection of brands, engagement, and technology for 15 years. She began her career working in politics building membership operations and doing online organizing. It was there that she learned the power of technology and advocacy and the value of creating experiences that foster long-term relationships with people. Kirstin then transitioned to working with technology start-ups, where she learned how to build and market products and services to clients with exceptional results. She is motivated by a desire to create simplicity out of complexity and solve problems. Follow her on Twitter @kmfalk.



This is a female-only hackathon for any female college students to participate on teams, with female faculty and professionals serving as team facilitators and mentors. The goal is to help the students invent and envision their role in an emerging technology market. No prior technology experience is required.


Registration costs $129 for professionals and $79 for students. Entry fee includes breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday, and breakfast and lunch on Sunday.


We have a special group rate at the nearby Radisson Hotel:

Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Midtown at USC (8 minute walk)

3540 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90007 USA

Group Rate: $159 + tax

Make reservations by calling (800) 333-3333 and mention “Women’s Hackathon”

For other hotel options in the area, and directions to campus, check out our full Travel Information page.


Panel Discussion and Weekend Hackathon

Start: Friday October 9, 2015, at 7 pm Pacific Time
End: Sunday October 11, 2015, at 2:30 pm Pacific Time

Host: USC Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication, Wallis Annenberg Hall


Friday, October 9

> Event begins at 7 pm.

> Evening welcome and panel discussion with top women at tech and journalism companies and startups.

Saturday, October 10

> Light breakfast with welcome talk.

> Break out into teams; training talks and demos; time for teams to start building projects.

> Lunch with training talk

> More training talks and building.

> Buffet dinner.

Sunday, October 11

> Light breakfast with training talk.

> Time for teams to build projects and prep pitch presentations.

> Lunch with final presentation to judges; winners announced.

> Event wraps by 2:30 pm for travel home.

Go Metro to this event during LA Innovation Week! For your best route, use the Metro Trip Planner or call (323) Go Metro (323.466.3876)


October 09, 2015 at 7:00pm - October 11, 2015
USC Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication, Wallis Annenberg Hall
3630 Watt Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
Google map and directions
Mark Glaser ·
$79.00 USD · Purchase tickets

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RSVP: Hack the Gender Gap: Women's Hackathon at USC Annenberg

USC Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication, Wallis Annenberg Hall
3630 Watt Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
Google map and directions
NOTE: After RSVP, you will still need to purchase a ticket here

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