Sole female, minor coder wins hackathon with anti-spoiler app

17-year-old Jen Lamere won the grand prize for a Chrome app in her first solo coding competition.

Jen Lamere loves watching spoiler-free TV. Twitter/jenniee_l

As the father of a 5-year-old girl who adores all things princess but also digs stars and comets and mastered the user interface for both Android and iOS in about half a day, I'm always on the look out for Geek Grrl role models . So the new hero in my household is Jennie Lamere.

This 17-year-old grrl loves both reality television and hackathons and tapped into those two passions to win the grand prize at the TVnext hack event in Boston last month. Her brilliantly simple hack, first detailed on evolver.fm, is designed to prevent spoilers on Twitter while watching live TV.

Surely we've all shaken our fists in the air when a fellow "Walking Dead" or "Game of Thrones" fan in a different time zone tweets about the latest character to get eliminated while you're still popping popcorn and getting the couch ready for the evening's gore-fest.

Lamere's Google Chrome app, Twivo, allows users to block any tweets related to a certain keyword or words for a specified period of time, allowing you to keep up with the rest of the Twitterverse during commercial breaks without ruining the show you're watching.

Cool, yes. But what's more striking is the fact that Lamere was the only female and the only minor participant in the event. Even cooler? It was also the first coding project she'd ever attempted completely on her own.

"After working on coding for a few years, this is my first solo hack," Lamere told me in an e-mail. "Coding can be difficult at first, but if you work your way up to big projects, it's not so hard."

She says she thinks "it is sad that not more girls are interested in coding," but she hasn't run into any sexism or had any negative experiences as a female coder.

It's also notable that Lamere's father has done his share of hackathons, but he never pressured the younger Lamere to compete.

"I developed an interest in coding through my dad, who is a software developer. I tagged along to hackathons with him and gradually did more and more code on joint projects."

I guess role models beget role models. Let's hope sharing this success story begets some exponential growth in the number of geek grrls out there.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to continue my search for princess decals for a model rocket that's being assembled on my family's kitchen table.

 

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