More often than not, being an all girls team ourselves, we have been vastly outnumbered in terms of our gender in the otherwise extremely accommodating tech community, especially during these weekend hackathons that we enjoy so much. Therefore, we tried to do our part for the social good and to improve gender equality while uplifting our own kind. This was the story behind creating 'Fem STEM'.
"I am super lucky to have found my female hacking squad and to have met so many amazing and empowered female and non-binary hackers on the way. I still remember my first hackathon from a few months back where my teammates and I... stayed up all night working on our mental health hack, at Athena Hacks, each of us supporting and learning so much from each other on the way. It was an incredible experience and the best cherry on the cake was that my teammates Chehak, Nandini, Soumi and I ended up winning a Microsoft sponsored category at the end of the night. All our hard work had paid off and the secret behind that was our entire team had only sheros, sheros who trusted and believed in each other, rather than discounting their efforts or taking credit. That was the day we knew that we would help more female student hackers like us to find their tribe and be inspired from women techies! Hence, FemSTEM is born."
Make sure to join the Fem STEM official Discord server too here
What it does
Fem STEM is a web application that serves as an inclusive, supportive tech community focusing strictly on women and non-binaries. Our app offers mentorship opportunities, women-led tutorials, a hall of fame section and an opportunity of finding other female or non-binary teammates during hackathons. It helps users to find teammates with necessary skills, making finding a team for a hackathon much much simpler! It even provides a space where mentees can connect to mentors and ask relevant doubts.
Features we've implemented
- Our Fem STEM homepage has a list of introductory materials and a few links to donate in organizations who are empowering young women in the tech industry.
- In the Help section, users (mentors) can create groups as doubt solving threads for helping other members of the community with their tech doubts.
- Tutorials section can fetch only women-made tech tutorials on relevant topics.
- Opportunities section is for users to add hackathons or other opportunities for helping others.
- A Hall of Fame section highlights our users' achievements.
- Profile dashboard displays all details of the user, including skills and contact.
- UserWay plugin makes our web app more accessible to users with visual impairment or other similar issues.
How we built it
- Back-end was supported using Node.js
- We used the Youtube Data v3 API for fetching the women made tech tutorials.
- MongoDB database is used to store the registered users and their details as well as the groups and their comments for the mentor/mentee page.
- We used bcrypt.js to hash the passwords in our database to ensure security of our users against any kind of data breach
- We used passport.js to authenticate our users
- We used UserWay plugin to make our web app more accessible to users with visual impairment or other similar issues.
- We used Canva to create our app logo as well as all the designs used on our web page.
- We used Heroku to host our web app.
Challenges we ran into
- It was our very first time working with databases and it took us a lot of time to get acquainted with the platform (Mongo).
- It was also our first time working with the Youtube Data v3 API.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
- All the designs that are up on the web app, including the badges have either been self drawn or self designed.
- We are really happy that we pulled off the matching algorithm to the extent that we did and to match users with contrasting abilities.
- We are really proud of the fact that we have made this app for a good cause and it will help female techies to build, learn, create and connect together.
- We are really proud that we could ideate and build so many features in a relatively short amount of time.
What we learned
- We learnt to use databases, namely MongoDB on our end.
- We learnt about how to play with the google developers API for Youtube data fetching
- We learnt to connect the client side static files to the back-end, which actually proved to be a greater challenge than we had imagined.
What's next for Fem STEM
- We need to add an 'answered' or 'unanswered' status to the thread answers on the mentor-mentee group page.
- We also intend to make a full fledged customized Fem STEM Discord bot for our existing server.
- We also intend to scale this application so that more women and non-binary users can participate and take full advantage of the platform.