Tête-à-tête with a Die-hard Software Coder, a Passionate Software Engineer and the Zinnov-CodeAholic Winner
I remember the day when some of my male colleagues were making jokes about the females at our workplace.
According to them, women are bimbos, who come to the office so that they could gossip about their household problems, show off their new clothes and simply to pass-time. And even after countering their generalization well, I still am not convinced if they really had some “Hriday-Parivartan” about females. I also know that it’s not only them. In fact, there are many men (surprisingly women too) who have such mindsets.
I keep wondering, would speaking and replying back to such biases, really help?
On one hand, some part of our society still thinks that the kitchen is the right place for a woman, whereas on the other hand there are these ladies - who make their actions speak louder than their voice and always prove these orthodox people wrong, ruthlessly.
The Lady Whose Actions Speak Louder Than Her Voice!
Meet one such lady, Akanksha Saxena who along with her team, is the first runner-up of “All India Women Codeathon-Zinnov”.
The winning team was declared among more than 30000 entries from all around the country. The entries for this event-competition, which was held at Bangalore this year in June, received an overwhelming response from numerous leading software MNCs.
Zinnov- Codeaholics for her
Zinnov-Codeaholics was the 1st edition of Zinnov Codeaholics – A woman only hackathon, in the runup to Confluence 2018. The objective was to fetch maximum women technocrats, from a diverse background and get them to join in, on the action.
Zinnov-Codeaholics had the followings in store for the participants:
- To make the women participate and encourage them to win BIG cash prizes
- Get felicitated as part of Zinnov Awards
- Speak in front of 2000 technology leaders and influencers at Confluence.
It was a wonderful initiative taken forth, which valued the “another breed of unicorns in the technology world – the women coders”.
So without much ado, let us hear what Akanksha, who is 28 years old, working as an associate consultant with Globallogic. Inc. has to say about her journey and stance with the major win.
Ques: How did you come across this event? Were you looking for it or you just bumped into the same?
Ans: We received an email from the marketing team from our organization Globallogic, seeking for nomination for the Zinnov-Codeaholic. But it is true that I personally always wanted to develop some app for the women security.
Ques: Do you think such female-oriented CodeAholics are the need of the hour? If so, then why? How is Zinnov CodeAholics helping women on this stand?
Ans: Of course, it is.
It is hard to believe the statistics on the subject of getting more women into STEM courses, as the number of women in software development is alarmingly low with an appallingly dismal number!
Did you know that there is just one female engineer for every three male engineers?
Out of the 5 million developers in India, only 18% are women. This is the current scenario.
Now, the reasons for the statistic being so less are many but the most prominent one is lack of encouragement. Women have incredible thinking power which if channelized in the right way can do miracles. But they are seldom promoted or encouraged as far as participation in a technical field is concerned.
Ques: What are the challenges faced by women in tech?
Ans: The major challenges as per me are,
- The gender ratio is not well balanced
- The complex tasks are not assigned to females. The managers prefer males over female candidates as they know that females can’t stay late.
- When a woman returns after her maternity leaves, she finds it very difficult to find relevant projects.
- At times there are some cases of male chauvinism.
Ques: How was the journey designed? Apart from being an all-women coding event, what was the striking feature of this competition/codealholic?
Ans: The theme based event added extra enthusiasm. It felt less like a competition and more like a social cause. I really liked the two themes.
The event was organized really well. I must say, the organizers left no stone unturned to make us feel comfortable.
Ques: I am sure the judges were some really big tycoons of the software industry, did you anticipate your winning chances?
Ans: I was looking for the development of an exciting project, a new learning experience and a chance to network with industry stalwarts and innovators.
But yes I did wish hard that we win, but that was not the sole objective.
Ques: What were the themes in the event? How did you decide which theme to choose?
Ans: There were two themes on which the participants had to code and develop,
- The Women Security
- Indian stack
We took up the theme of “women security”, as we know women’s safety has taken center stage these days. With an increase of nearly 11% crime rates reported against women just between the year 2015 to 2016, it is a high time that we start with some serious action.
We thought that with advanced technologies such as IoT, Big Data, AI, ML, etc when utilized in the right way, will surely play definitive roles in women’s safety. That was when we started to dig in deeper and found some really interesting facts.
Ques: So tell us more about your project?
Ans: We formed a team and named it “My Integrity”. I worked as a backend developer. Team members, Mamta gave us the initial idea of detecting the hidden camera in changing rooms or washrooms and also worked in the coding part, while Anu presented the idea to the panel.
We wanted to develop an application that could detect the spyware effectively, by using a minimum resource. Moreover, it should be compact and easily operable. Smartphones hit our minds as the best way to detect the hidden camera because that is what we carry everywhere.
We had made an amateur video for the panel to understand how the app will be used and help women in any dire situation.
(check the below to see how the My Integrity - the hidden camera detector app, works)
Ques: A Hidden Camera Detector! Amazing! That too in an android app? For sure this had to be selected by the panel. Can you explain in a layman’s language how it works?
Ans: Thank you.
The coding was done in the android language. Before I start with how we did the coding, I think you should know how the hidden cameras work.
Usually, the hidden cameras are wireless. Now a wireless hidden camera turns the image into a signal that is then transmitted by the transmitter, part by part to the receiver. This is when radiations come into the picture. The receiver then converts the signal back to images.
We then started to study the idea a bit more and decided to detect a camera by the EM field intensity. We researched the specifications of a few hidden cameras and finally benchmarked the EM intensity as, to declare the place safe or unsafe.
We included an If-condition in the code as,
- If the EM Field Strength is in the range of 80-120 microtesla, then there isn’t any hidden camera.
- If the EM Field Strength is more than the 80-120 microtesla range, then there is a hidden camera.
Process-flow of the app
The entire coding was done only in 2 days.
Ques: What were the major challenges that you faced while developing the app?
Ans: You see I am a core Java developer and the hidden camera detector was developed on an Android platform. I was totally new to the language. Hence it was the biggest challenge for me, to first learn the new language, apply logic and then do the coding so that it would be successfully executed with no or minimum error.
Also, we were given a limited time. Which meant no scope of detailed testing and no scope of making a mistake.
Ques: How did the big day go? How were the winners announced?
Ans: The first day at Codeathon, 1st June 2018, began with the introduction of Nitika and other jury members at Zinnov. Later Nikita introduced us to the sponsors of the Zinov-Codeathon.
We then had an interactive session with the panel. They interrogated us about the idea for which we were developing the app. Thereafter the rest of the day we continued with the coding.
The second day began with a video demonstration of the practical usage of the app. We also completed the coding of the app, created the final presentation and submitted the project.
At 5.30pm, the panel was ready with the winners and the awards.
They started announcing the winners. The first prize was given to the project “We Pay” based on the theme “The India Stack”. They had developed a payment app specially for the blind and disabled people. By using this app, people can listen to the amount they are paying to the merchant. These people very much deserved the first place.
When they announced our project as the first runner-up, I was amazed beyond words. I was utterly delighted to receive the award. After all, the immense hard work paid off.
We were called upon the podium and were given the dummy check and momentums.
The winning moments
The second runners-up were announced and their theme was also based on the “India Stack”.
Ques: How was the competition overall?
Ans: The competition was very tough. It was certainly not an easy one to crack.
Around 650 teams (2/3 members in each) participated, out of which only 30 teams were shortlisted on the basis of their project ideas they were invited to Banglore for the final event.
We were extremely inspired to see world-class innovative ideas coming from every corner of the country.
Ques: What were all your learnings from this event? How has winning this competition helped you personally?
Ans: I was extremely happy to see my hard work being recognized.
I learned a new concept of the Android library, experienced the team spirit in a true sense and my self-confidence has enhanced to a new height.
Also not to forget, it was an eye-opener for me to see such a huge crowd of passionate, enthusiastic and brainy women that our country has.
I feel empowered, motivated and even more confident. Participating in such Codeathons is a great learning experience and esteem booster.
Ques: People you would love to thank for supporting you?
Ans: My entire team at Globallogic, my family, friends, and relatives, for helping me in some or the other way. They have always helped me become what I am today.
I would also like to give a special mention to my colleague Isha Jain, for encouraging me always and the Vice President, Mr. Rohit Madhok, for sponsoring our trip to Bangalore for the hackathon.
Ques: If you were to give an advice to the other women out there, what would it be?
Ans: Believe in yourself because God Lies within you.
Women are very powerful, hence they do not have to accept any sort of unfair treatment, statements, biases. They don't have to be at the receiving end. All they have to do is to believe.
After having known her before and after the win, one thing that really impresses me is her humility and the learning attitude. She knows a lot but never shows it off, she is a confident and independent lady but has no pride. I hope we all learn from her story and make our society proud.
When we are asking for gender equality in the tech-world or corporate, ladies should not hold themselves back until the equality is imposed in the work culture. Women should take steps on their own, to prove their capabilities and aim to rise higher than the expectation.
One way of showcasing your caliber is by actively participating in the hackathons, codeathons and other such competitions and consider them as a challenge. Women should not only be proactive but also need to be persuasive when any task comes up in the team.
She should take an oath to shun the dogmas set and make her achievements speak for her.
The CEO and the Chairwoman of IBM, Ginni Rometty says,
“...I learned to always take on things I had never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.”
A*****Awsmly essayed and Congrats to the spirit of womanhood
A*****Amazing to read her successful in coding