Statement from AngelHack CEO Sabeen Ali on Techweek Chicago

Dear Partners,

Here at AngelHack, we work tirelessly to bring Silicon Valley’s opportunities to developers and entrepreneurs all around the world. Our global hackathon competitions, HACKcelerator program, white label hackathons and Code for a Cause continue enabling us to spread the power of code to over 30 cities throughout the world.

At the end of the day, however, we couldn’t do this without our people: our hardworking staff, dedicated ambassadors, and wonderful sponsors. They helped us create what is now the largest developer ecosystem in the world, and we’re eternally grateful and indebted to them for helping us get to where we are.

Which brings us to Techweek Chicago.

Last week, Techweek put out an ad, featuring scantily clad women in suggestive poses, promoting its “Black Tie Rave” event. The backlash was immediate and intense, leading to a flurry of press, loss of sponsors, and a renewed conversation on the tech industry’s lack of gender diversity.

This issue is of particular interest to us, for two reasons:

1) AngelHack is partnering with Techweek to host a hackathon,

2) As a female-owned and dominated company, AngelHack deals with sexism in the industry on a daily basis.

I’ll address these issues below.

As some of you may well remember, AngelHack itself faced a similar backlash after a former employee made some insensitive remarks on Facebook. Like Techweek, we also lost sponsors and clients for it. But some of our partners stuck around, knowing that one person’s comments didn’t reflect on our entire organization. We’ll never forget their kindness and support during those trying times.

We feel it’s important to give Techweek the benefit of the doubt. While the ad was regrettable, we know it doesn’t reflect what Techweek’s amazing team stands for, and we believe this has provided us a great opportunity to address sexism in tech head-on. As such, we’ve chosen to continue our relationship with Techweek, and moderate a series of panels during the conference regarding the issue.

Obviously, AngelHack is a female-owned company. Our workforce is also 50% female. We’re constantly fighting an uphill battle when networking, negotiating and pitching. We know how alienating the industry can feel for women. This is not only why we feel so strongly and passionately about this issue, it’s also why we’re in a unique position to facilitate a much-needed conversation on how to combat it.

To this end, I will be participating in one of several roundtable discussions and panels on women in tech during Techweek, on Friday at 2:30pm. then on Saturday at 2:30pm. I highly encourage you to attend them, both to increase your own awareness (or educate others) on the issue, and to be part of a solution. This issue is deeply entrenched, with no easy fixes, but if we are to make tech a more welcoming and inclusive place for women, it must start with dialogue such as this.

To see the full Techweek schedule, click here. Thank you all for your ongoing support of AngelHack’s mission and efforts.


Sabeen Ali
Co-Founder & CEO