CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article identified Rachel Yuan by the incorrect pronoun. Yuan's pronouns are they/them. The story has been udpated with the correct pronouns. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
As a first-year, senior Rachel Yuan thought they wanted to double major in computer science and biology, but after Pearl Hacks' hackathon, they realized they were right where they belonged.
Pearl Hacks, an annual coding competition (hackathon) that promotes an inclusive environment for female and non-binary students interested in computer science, begins Feb.16 in UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
The competition, created by UNC student Maegan Clawges in 2014, started so women could have a female-majority hackathon. Computer programing is a heavily male dominated field; from 1984 to 2014 the percentage of computer science majors that identify as women dropped from 37 to 18. Clawges felt a need to create her own hackathon to attract female hackers and their friends.
Pearl Hacks has expanded over the years, with an increasing number of participants from other universities. The rising amount of sponsorships and mentors gives networking opportunities for an underrepresented minority to learn and grow in computer science.