Advancing Together With Barrick Gold

People Barrick joined by Cisco as sponsor for Hackergal

Video conferencing technology adds new dimension to all-girls hackathon

Hackergal Founder and Managing Director Lucy Ho (front row, center) and Valerie Li, Program Manager at Hackergal (front row, left) make opening remarks from Jesse Ketchum Public School in Toronto. Using Cisco’s Telepresence videoconferencing technology, they were able to connect with all participating schools.


We’re thrilled that Cisco is partnering with Barrick in support of Hackergal, which held its latest Canada-wide hackathon for girls on Wednesday. More than 100 schools across seven provinces and one territory participated. The schools were able to connect virtually to each other thanks to Cisco’s Telepresence video conferencing technology, adding a new dimension to the event, which introduces young girls to coding.

Using Telepresence, Barrick Chief Innovation Officer Michelle Ash kicked off the event with a short address to all the schools from Cisco Canada’s head office in Toronto.

“The very fact that we can now do school over what is effectively a television screen is absolutely amazing to me,” Ash said, thanking Cisco for making it possible.


Barrick Chief Innovation Officer Michelle Ash (left) and Willa Black, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Cisco Canada.


Ash said she’s excited to see more girls gravitating towards STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects, noting that she was often the only women in her engineering classes during university and the only women working on a mine site early in her career. Today, women comprise about 15 percent of the mining industry, Ash said, adding that she’s looking forward to the day when it’s 50 percent. “Make it happen,” she told the 2,500 girls who participated in the hackathon.

Willa Black, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Cisco Canada, echoed Ash’s remarks. “If we are really serious about seeing more girls and women in STEM, we need to start very early,” she said. “The work of Hackergal is so engaging and exciting and it is really opening up a whole new world for those girls. We are so thrilled to be partnering with Barrick to make these hackathons happen.”

Barrick is lead sponsor for the Hackergal hackathons, which introduces young girls to coding through hackathons. The non-profit is holding two Canada-wide hackathons this year for middle school and high school girls. The next event will take place in December.


More than 100 schools from seven provinces and one territory participated in the event.