Microsoft reveals new competitions with focus on women

21 Feb 2013

One of three all-female teams in the Software Design category, Team Grawesome from Oman pauses in the Student Lounge to show its team spirit at the Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals

Women and female technology innovators are the focus of the Women’s Empowerment Award and the Women’s Athletics App Challenge, new competitions software giant Microsoft unveiled yesterday.

The Women’s Empowerment Award has been established in partnership with UN Women, the UN organisation that works to accelerate gender equality and the empowerment of women.

This award will go to two student teams of any gender that create projects that best address issues that impact women around the world.

Registration is now also open for the Women’s Athletics App Challenge, established in partnership with the Seattle Storm women’s basketball team.

This competition, open for submissions from all-female teams worldwide, aims to inspire female developers, innovators and entrepreneurs to create software related to sports, health or fitness.

The winning team, announced this summer, will receive a US$1,000 prize per team member, as well as the opportunity to have a private meet-and-greet with a Seattle Storm basketball player and to watch a game on the Storm’s home court in Seattle, Washington.

Microsoft Imagine Cup 2013 Worldwide Finals

Teams of any gender from around the world that advance to the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2013 Worldwide Finals will be eligible to enter their projects into consideration for the Women’s Empowerment Award.

The first-place prize (US$12,000) and the second-place prize (US$8,000) will be awarded to the projects that best address economic inequality, access to technology and other resources, gender-based violence, leadership and political participation, or other critical women’s issues, Microsoft said.

Applicants will be judged on the potential impact their projects can have on women’s lives, including feasibility to address the target issue and the quality of the application.

“Students can be change agents; they can revolutionise the world we live in,” said Kristin Hetle, director of Strategic Partnerships of UN Women.

“By harnessing the power of technology, they can bring attention to issues that women, in particular, face every day. The Women’s Empowerment Award will encourage and reward students who choose to focus their energy on creating positive change for women globally.”

Female participation in the Imagine Cup continues to grow steadily, Microsoft said. Last year, nearly 20pc of students at the Worldwide Finals were female.

Imagine Cup, Microsoft added, gives women a platform upon which to pursue interests and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-related fields and serves as a launch pad for them to becoming developers, innovators or entrepreneurs.

On International Women’s Day, 8 March, Silicon Republic launches Women Invent Tomorrow, a year-long campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. Watch this space!

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic