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hackathonDid you know that by 2018, there are expected to be more than 1.4 million available jobs in the technology sector in the U.S., and at the current graduation rates of computer science students only 69 percent of those jobs will be filled, and of that total only 29 percent will be women?

That's a critical reason why efforts should continue to reach young women in middle school and high school to encourage them to pursue the computer science field. This is the primary goal of the Microsoft International Women's Hackathon as it participates as a major Partner at Festival Expo 2014!

Commenting on why the Women's Hackathon will be sponsoring various interactive activities at the Expo this month to expose girls to computer science -- including giving them the chance (via Skype) to see university women students around the world competing in the Hackathon -- Rane Johnson, Principal Research Director, Microsoft Research, says: We know more diverse teams create greater innovations and our research and development teams are not diverse enough! We hope to show all students what an exciting field computer science is and why more girls should join us to solve the world's greatest challenges through computing.¨

The 2014 Women's Hackathon will do this through such exciting presentations as:

-- A welcome address on Friday, April 25 by Mignon Clyburn, a member (and former Acting Chairwoman) of the Federal Communications Commission, who will kick off the Women's Hackathon activities at the Expo.

-- Team activities, sponsored by two non-profits -- Teens Against Distracted Driving, and UN Women -- which will respectively focus on how to stop teens from texting and driving, and how to grow women's economic development throughout the world through greater awareness of STEM opportunities. Team members will also hear from Bonnie Ross, who oversees Microsoft's Halo business as the general manager of 343 Industries.

--Two exciting days of hacking and hearing from inspirational speakers through SKYPE will connect girls and young women with Microsoft Women's Hackathon participants across the globe to allow girls to see how innovators of tomorrow are solving big problems through computing.

--The chance for participants to pitch their hacking solutions to prominent women in the computing industry who will be serving as judges, including Lucy Sanders of the National Commission on Women in Information and Technology (NCWIT) and Jennifer Breslin of UN Women. Other experts will include Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the U.S., Sanket Akerkar of Microsoft, and Hadi Partovi of The two winning teams will receive a Microsoft Surface.

We are looking for 100 women (ages 16-26) to participate in the International Women's Hackathon. No coding experience is required, but is very helpful to have, and groups of 4-6 can register as a team or a student can register individually and be added to a team.

Registration is quick and easy and groups can start planning for the Hackathon now, but all coding will happen at the event. To participate in the program, please: Register today.

To learn more about the International Women's Hackathon, click here