Masculinity and Machinery: Analysis of Care Practices, Social Climate and Marginalization at Hackathons

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Curated by: Small Business Management

Caption: The opening of LA Hacks at UCLA 2014. Image credits: @sampoonachot

Hackathons are not as inclusive as they claim to be, particularly through the lenses of class, gender, ability, and care. Major League Hacking, the official hackathon league which sponsors hackathons worldwide, calls hackathons “invention marathons.” Supposedly, they’re designed to be relaxed and welcoming, and you don’t need programming experience to participate. However, hackathons are hostile to identities that don’t fit a “typical” hacker: generally male, cisgender, heterosexual, white or East Asian, particularly experienced in programming, and able-bodied and minded. This becomes a feminist issue considering hackathon practices prevent the growth of a diverse, critical tech sphere.

For my research, college hackathon participants were observed through ethnographic studies and interviews regarding their experiences at these events. These participants provided data regarding social etiquette, practices of care, and expectations for work habits at hackathons globally. The project also included interviews with hackathon and tech industry activists and organizers, as well as discourse analysis and social media analysis.

Care Practices and Exclusion at Hackathons

Hackathon spaces cultivate a culture that marginalizes hackers with specific needs, including but not limited to women, people with disabilities, people with non-traditional backgrounds, and


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